The decision is finally in.
Derek Stingley Jr., the nation’s top-ranked cornerback in the Class of 2019, gave a verbal commitment to LSU over finalists Florida and Texas on Wednesday, his 17th birthday, putting a much-needed bow on the elite prospect’s recruitment.
Stingley, a consensus 5-star defensive back, made the final decision after taking an official visit to Gainesville, Fla., at the beginning of June. However, he had known since January that he was LSU-bound when he had a special conversation with coach Ed Orgeron during an unofficial visit for the elite junior day.
“I know for a fact that I can see myself at LSU,” Stingley told SEC Country. “I was ready to shut it down and be done with the recruiting process. It was fun, but pretty hectic and stressful at the same time. Going to LSU isn’t a four-year commitment, but a 40-year commitment, so if I were to leave early, I could go back and get my degree.”
Stingley, who will graduate from the Dunham School (La.) in December, will sign his national letter of intent early and enroll at LSU a month later, he said.
The nation’s No. 15-ranked prospect has officially wrapped up his recruitment and will not take any more visits anywhere other than LSU. He said he expects to take that official visit to Baton Rouge for the Georgia game on Oct. 13.
Stingley made two official visits in the past two months: to Texas at the start of May and to Florida to kick off June. In between, he made an unofficial stop at LSU for the annual passing came last Saturday. While the 2019 All-American has openly been leaning toward the Tigers, he insisted this was a close race decided by the opportunity to play in front of those he cares about most.
“It was really close, to be honest,” Stingley admitted. “I took my official visit to Texas and felt that had a shot. The same goes for Florida and the way they were telling me how things would work and how I’d fit into their scheme. Mainly, though, I was thinking about family and the best thing would be playing in front of my family and friends and not being too far away.”
The 6-foot-1, 195-pound defensive back with a 40-inch vertical and 4.3 speed gave a verbal pledge to former coach Les Miles and defensive backs coach Corey Raymond two years when he received an offer at the team’s annual elite high school camp. Stingley committed on the spot.
After de-committing before his sophomore year, Stingley named the Tigers as his leading school, again, at the start of the spring. He received clarity on the whole process by making visits all over the country and comparing that to what was familiar back home in Baton Rouge.
“Throughout the process, I learned a lot,” Stingley explained. “I’ve been through different camps and college campuses, going against different types of competition and learning from different coaches. I came back to LSU because I felt that was the best thing for me.”
Stingley said he informed members of the LSU coaching staff of his decision earlier this month. He will return to campus for the second time in as many weeks for the annual elite camp, two years after he first garnered an offer from the team.
Back on campus — this time as the newest and highest-rated member of the Tigers’ 2019 recruiting class, which is now ranked No. 10 in the country — Stingley plans on assuming a very new role: recruiter. Orgeron doled out that responsibility to the 5-star cornerback at the start of the spring and, now, Stingley plans on embracing it.
“When I told them [the LSU coaches], they said they couldn’t wait to get the ‘ship started. I could go out and recruit other people now, and I’m looking forward to that,” he said. “I know I have the power to convince others. Having the label as the No. 1 player in the country, they’ll listen to me more. I probably could do it without the label because I can sell them on the brotherhood, the way the coaches take care of you and about the togetherness at LSU. There’s not too many places you’ll go where you have a legit relationship with each and every coach on staff, and at LSU, everyone is involved.”