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Stingley is the Standard

By BJ Bennett
SouthernPigskin.com
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Derek Stingley made history right away. He continues to make an impression.

Derek Stingley, Jr. may be college football's best player. He has won a national championship, starring for one of the game's greatest teams ever, has twice been named an All-American and has twice earned first-team All-SEC honors, all before ever taking a single upperclassman snap. Now a junior with a remarkable resume and place reserved in the record books, Stingley remains focused on improvement, bettering both himself and his team ahead of a season where LSU expects to return to form.

Projected as a top five NFL Draft pick, Stingley has is it all as a game-changing cover corner. He is 6'1'', 190 pounds and has been clocked at 4.3 in the forty yard dash. Stingley is savvy and instinctive, versatile and dynamic and thrives in a leadership role. His true freshman season saw Stingley lead all of Power Five football with 21 passes defended. At a program many deem "DBU", Stingley has earned LSU's famed number seven jersey for this season.

To date, Stingley has 20 career pass breakups, six interceptions, two fumble recoveries and a handful of rings. He is still focused on the details of his game.

"I think my biggest strength is my ability to stay calm in situations where most corners would panic," Stingley self-scouted to Christian Goeckel. "I also have to work on more things like eye discipline, hand placement, feet, a lot of things. So there is always something to improve on."

Stingley, in addition to being part of nine turnovers defensively, has a career punt return average of 11.3 yards per attempt. A pure playmaker, he could potentially be used on offense for LSU this season. Wherever Stingley lines up, he will make a difference. As a senior at the Dunham School in Baton Rouge, Stingley averaged 28.3 yards per reception, caught eight touchdown passes and ran for four more. 

If asked, Stingley is ready to help LSU however he can.

"If Coach O wants me to do it and he feels like I need to be out there then I'll do whatever it takes to win," he added.

Part of Stingley's influence is the impact he has on his teammates. He has developed a strong bond with fellow LSU corner Eli Ricks, a talent who, like Stingley, earned All-American recognition as a heralded true freshman. Literally and figuratively, there are a lot of similarities between Stingley and Ricks. Expect both to star in the defensive scheme of new coordinator Daronte Jones, who joins the Tigers from the NFL. The famed cornerback duo continues to work and work together.    

"It's crazy. We are actually really close," Stingley explained. "It's just amazing, seeing him going out there and perform. There's actually a picture...he had an interception against Vanderbilt last year and I had an interception in the spring game and, both of us, it's like the same image after we got it. We talk about it a lot. It's pretty cool to see him growing up and getting better and better everyday."

As excitement grows for this upcoming season, Stingley and LSU will be directly involved in the college football conversation. Expectations remain high for the Tigers, who are poised to contend in the SEC and nationally alike. Looking ahead to November, LSU will open the month at Alabama and close it out at home against Texas A&M. The Tigers will actually kickoff the season in the Rose Bowl at UCLA. The bright lights will follow Stingley and his team wherever they go.

Through all of the hype, Stingley is taking it all in stride.  

"This season, with everybody going in, with my brothers, my teammates, making sure we are all on the same page and go and have fun," he added.

Stingley made history right away. He continues to make an impression. 

"He's just like them. He's elite," head coach Ed Orgeron stated to Goeckel of Stingley and the all-time greats in the secondary at LSU. "Let's see what happens, but as far as a great young man, he's right there on top with all of them."

Having already done it all, Stingley is back for more.

BJ Bennett - B.J. Bennett is SouthernPigskin.com's founder and publisher. He is the co-host of "Three & Out" with Kevin Thomas and Ben Troupe on the "Southern Pigskin Radio Network". Email: bj@espncoastal.com / Twitter: @BJBennettSports