ORLANDO, Fla. — Corey Raymond is widely considered the architect of LSU’s continued “DBU” reputation.
With the work he’s done, it’s hard to argue otherwise.
Over the past several recruiting classes, Raymond, Austin Thomas and other members of LSU’s coaching staff have consistently added integral pieces to field some of the nation’s top secondaries. Together, they have courted blue-chip prospects such as Donte Jackson and Kevin Toliver (2015), Kristian Fulton and Saivion Smith (2016), among others — Tigers that have already made their mark on the football program or are expected to in due time.
The departure of stalwarts such as Adams and Tre’Davious White yet again opens the doors for the next crop of lockdown defensive backs to enter the fray. In 2017, the class has even more illustrious energy.
JaCoby Stevens, Grant Delpit and Kary Vincent Jr. are three of the four defensive backs currently committed to LSU. Jontre Kirklin is the other, a two-time state championship-winning quarterback for Lutcher (La.) High, who is expected to transition to cornerback when he arrives in Baton Rouge.
Stevens and Delpit are the Nos. 1 and 10-ranked safeties in the class, respectively. Vincent is the No. 13 cornerback, and all three rank among the top 120 prospects overall.
More important than rankings and stars is the understanding of LSU’s “DBU” tradition. It’s why all three Under Armour All-Americans committed to the Tigers and to Raymond — in the hopes of furthering a reputation that so many other programs and players aim to match.
“I think that all three of us know the weight that it holds to be a defensive back at LSU,” Stevens told SEC Country. “It’s tight-knitted like a fraternity. Corey Raymond is just the mastermind behind everyone’s success. Being under him, you have to do certain things, extra things … Me, Kary and Grant are going to room together when we go to college, and that should tell you how close we are. It’s not that we were forced to mesh, but it’s our personalities. The staff did a good job of getting guys that understood that message.”
Of the defensive back commits in LSU’s 2017 class, a common bond is excellence on the field.
Personalities, though, are liable to differ.
Perhaps that’s why you may not have heard of a certain season-long competition between Stevens, the 5-star safety, and Vincent, the 4-star cornerback.
Stevens and Vincent took their friendship up a degree by betting on who would haul in more interceptions their senior season. The only thing that was on the line was bragging rights, which carries added weight when the two are committed to DBU.
Stevens, Tennessee’s Mr. Football in 6A classification, took home the figurative gold with 9 interceptions, which according him, should’ve been 10. Vincent came up just short with 8, though 3 of those were returned for touchdowns.
Cue the gloating.
“It’s the little bit of trash talking I can do,” a smiling Stevens said. “He had 8, which is a lot. It’s definitely a lot, but I had one more than him. It’s a friendly competition and we’re just pushing one another.”
“I’d be lying if I said it didn’t hurt,” the always confident Vincent replied. “But JaCoby has got three or four more years to deal with me, so he better brace himself.”
And that’s just it — the competition may have started while Stevens donned an Oakland (Tenn.) High jersey and Vincent in a Port Arthur (Texas) Memorial jersey, but it’ll continue in the purple and gold.
That’s a fact, especially considering Vincent refuses to live down that he lost by one pick.
“I think that it makes us better,” he said. “It’s really fun doing what we love — competing — and it’s really exciting.”
More so, it’s further evidence of not only the talent, but the brotherhood forged by a commitment to LSU.
There may not have been any All-Americans more bound at the hip than Stevens, Vincent, Delpit — and another 4-star defensive back target Todd Harris — throughout the week in Orlando. That speaks volumes about their chemistry both on and away from the field.
“Man, when you feel that way about our commits and my brothers in that secondary, guys like Grant Delpit and JaCoby Stevens, those are the kinds of players that you do or die for on the field,” said Vincent, “and I would die for those guys.”
Next up: Baton Rouge
Stevens’ and Vincent’s interception contest will continue into their freshman seasons in Baton Rouge, but another defensive back has his sights set on competition.
That, of course, is Delpit.
Delpit and Stevens, both Louisiana natives, moved onto campus over the weekend and will both be competing for a role in the Tigers’ secondary when spring practice begins in March.
Hostile? Not a chance.
“It’s going to be a friendly competition,” said Delpit. “Me and Jacoby are actually going to be roommates, so it will be fun to see who gets that starting job, or if it’s both of us. Honestly, I’m just looking to go in there and compete, and going in early, it will be good when we get there.”
Delpit and Stevens could face even more competition if and when LSU lands Louisiana’s top defensive back, Harris, who is scheduled to announce his intentions on National Signing Day.
Harris is down to the Tigers and Alabama, with a certain trio of defensive backs making a strong case for why he should join them at LSU.
If and when that transpires, the competition will resume.
Stevens, the reigning champion, is anxious to get back at it, but understands that Delpit, Vincent and maybe even Harris will be champing at the bit to dethrone him.
“It’s going to be me, him and Grant next year, and this time, I’ve put a big old target on my back,” Stevens laughed.
All ratings are from the 247Sports composite rankings unless otherwise noted.
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