The 2020 watch list season ended with a bang for LSU on Friday as LSU receiver Ja’Marr Chase and cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. were named to one of college football’s most prestigious national awards, the Maxwell.
The Maxwell Award is given annually by the Maxwell Club to the College Football Player of the Year. Past winners of the award include Barry Sanders, Herschel Walker, Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, Andrew Luck, Lamar Jackson, Baker Mayfield, Tua Tagovailoa and of course, Joe Burrow.
Burrow became the Tigers first and only winner of the award after his historic 5,671-yard, 60-touchdown season which broke the NCAA record in 2019.
For Stingley, the sophomore cornerback has been named to the Bednarik, Jim Thorpe, Nagurski and Paul Hornung awards while Chase has been named to the Bednarik and Biletnikoff awards.
A consensus All-American in 2019 as a freshman, Stingley recorded a conference leading six interceptions and 21 passes defended. In a very short time he proved to be one of the top defensive players in the country and will come in with sky high expectations in 2020.
“He hasn’t even scratched the surface of what he’s going to be,” defensive coordinator Bo Pelini said. “He’s going to keep getting better and there’s just a lot of room for improvement.”
One way he can continue to improve will be going against the 2019 Biletnikoff award winner in practice every day. Chase, who recorded 1,780 yards and 20 touchdowns in 2019 returns as a consensus first-team All-American himself and will be a key cog in the Tigers sustained offensive success.
Receivers coach Mickey Joseph talked about the duo's matchups last season and what he learned about each through those practice battles in an interview on "Off the Bench."
"Stingley graduated early and started practicing with us and I said "Ok let's rough the freshman up a little bit,'" Joseph said. "So you know Joe [Burrow] is going to go at it and so we start throwing to Ja'Marr. About three throws in I thought 'maybe we need to leave this kid [Stingley] alone.' The thing that impressed me about Stingley is that he stuck his nose in and he and Ja'Marr got in a little scuffle and it was so funny because both dads were standing in the endzone.
"It's a battle they have in practice and is so professional and they talk to each other about what they're seeing. They're good, smart football players and really good competitors. If Ja'Marr is not the best player in the country then Stingley is, if Stingley isn't the best player in the country then Ja'Marr is."
Chase is only 909 yards and four touchdowns away from the breaking the program career records in both categories. The success of Myles Brennan will be largely predicated on Chase's success, though opposing defenses will likely draw their schemes around Chase.
One of the great strides Chase has made this season according to Orgeron is his leadership development.
“He’s been phenomenal. Ja’Marr is an excellent young man,” Orgeron said. “He’s very humble. He doesn’t require a lot of attention. He’s not in the media a lot, he just comes to work. He’s a leader.
“They’ve had player-only practices on Saturday morning when I come to work at 10 o’clock, they running through red zone routes on offense. They are on their own out there and he’s the one that’s leading. He’s the one encouraging everybody. He’s in the weight room. I think he’s in the best shape has ever been. I can’t say enough good things about Ja’Marr Chase and what he’s done for LSU.”