Welcome to SEC Country’s daily Eye on the Tigers, a rundown of everything happening in LSU Tigers recruiting, with Sam Spiegelman. Today, we discuss the nation’s No. 1 cornerback, Derek Stingley Jr., who breaks down why LSU continues to have an advantage over Texas and Florida.
LSU’s edge with Derek Stingley Jr.
BATON ROUGE, La. — The nation’s newly minted No. 1 cornerback is quickly trimming his list of top schools.
After taking his first official visit to Texas earlier this month, Derek Stingley Jr. announced a top 3 of LSU, Florida and the Longhorns with a commitment expected during the summer. Since the spring, the 5-star prospect has been open about the hometown Tigers sitting alone among those suitors.
Not much has changed since Stingley trimmed his list to three. There’s no reason for it. LSU, Florida and Texas are doing everything right and each program is trying to sell him on the same opportunities.
“It’s been the same, but that’s good because that’s what they’ve been doing and they’ve been doing it right,” Stingley told SEC Country. “There’s no need to change something like that.”
Stingley wrapped up his official visit to Austin, Texas on May 6 and will take his second official to Florida for the June 1 weekend. The Gators’ staff has taken a more personal approach to his recruitment as he braces for his second visit to The Swamp in a three-month span.
LSU is in a position to host the 5-star standout in June during camp season, but that will be an unofficial stop. After all, Stingley has been to LSU’s campus more than anywhere else and he’s grown comfortable with the push led by defensive backs coach Corey Raymond.
“They don’t need to do anything different because we’ve been building a relationship for three years,” he said. “We don’t need to talk every day and that’s fine because of how long we’ve been talking. I like how he [Raymond] goes about things. He’s calm and collected. He’s taught me a lot about life off the field and those lessons go a long way.”
Among those non-football conversations, Raymond has discussed first impressions with the elite Baton Rouge prospect.
Speaking of which, first-year safeties coach Bill Busch has been doing that with Stingley of late. Busch stopped by his high school during the spring evaluation period to see Stingley, who also sat in on a meeting with the new assistant during the Tigers’ spring game. Quickly, the two have forged a strong connection.
“Coach Busch came and watched me do drills and team,” Stingley said. “He’s new and I like him. I sat in on the meeting with all of the defensive backs and I liked the stuff that he had to say. It made sense and sounded right.”
‘His best is better than everyone else’s best’
Stingley has been the centerpiece of The Dunham School’s (La.) team for years. Recently being named the No. 1 cornerback in the country for 2019 has disproved the myth that a Class 2A program doesn’t feature elite-level talent.
Dunham coach Neil Weiner has trouble understanding the knock on smaller schools when it comes to producing top-shelf programs, offering up proof to dispel any doubt about the level of competition Stingley plays each Friday.
“Why does that matter? LSU, Florida, Texas, Alabama, UCLA, Notre Dame, Michigan, Ohio State don’t care because he’s an outstanding player,” Weiner said. “Against any competition, he makes plays and he’s been dominant. In our district alone, there’s guys signing in the SEC every year. Kendell Beckwith, Trindon Holliday and others have excelled at the highest level. Teams we play week in and week out, he’s played against and completely shut down.
“His best is better than everyone else’s best.”
At 6-foot-1 and 195 pounds, Stingley tested out of the gym at Nike’s North Texas regional last month. A 4.3 flat time in the 40, 9.5-inch hands, a 75-inch wingspan and a 40-plus-inch vertical, which pushed the 247Sports composite rankings to adjust where the elite defensive back ranked nationally. Rivals also added a fifth star to Stingley’s resume.
The physical element of Stingley’s game is only part of why he’s as dominant as advertised.
“I’d say it’s the stuff that people can’t see … the intangibles,” Weiner said. “As a 13-year-old eighth-grader coming into the program, he was serious about football. That’s stayed the same all the way through. When I look at our Hudl account to see who’s watching film, he’s logging the most hours every week. Some guys spend 30 minutes where he’s got 3 or 4 hours. What makes him different from everyone else — because there are other 6-foot-1, 195-pound corners that can run fast — is his passion for learning the game of football.”
The new No. 1 cornerback
Rankings were never a concern for Stingley. Far from it actually. In fact, he may not have heard he was the new No. 1 cornerback in the class if his father, Derek Stingley Sr., had not informed him on the update last week.
Bestowed with the honor comes pressure. The nation’s best defensive back is anxious to embrace the new challenge.
“It brings a bigger target on my back and all it does is bring out the competitor in me,” Stingley said. “Everyone is going to be giving me their best, so I’ll be giving everyone my best.”
For a prospect that corralled 11 interceptions in as many games as a junior, what could be in store in the encore presentation?
Stingley’s rise to the top of the rankings comes after years of hard work. That includes early morning workouts, playing both sides of the ball for Dunham and lining up against every team’s best receiver. Competition was the driving force in Stingley’s ascension in the class rankings as he attempts to maintain his post through February.
“Growing up, anytime I saw someone at No. 1, I was like: ‘Dang, that’s really good.’ It’s always something I’ve wanted and not something I’ll just put in the back of my mind,” he said. “It’s a big deal to be ranked like that and I love everything about it. … But whenever I go to college, it’ll go out the window.”
When he received his bump in the 247Sports composite, multiple college coaches offered congratulations to Stingley, but it reinforced a similar trend that’s been present for years.
Stingley has sat atop several school’s defensive back board for years, most notably LSU, who offered him two years ago prior to his sophomore year. Rankings aside, that has remained true.
“A lot of schools have congratulated me for getting my fifth star or congrats on being No. 1 at corner,” he said, “but they’ve said: ‘You’re already No. 1 in our minds.'”
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