Nothing in sports is more inherently fluid or what-have-you-done-for-me-lately than recruiting, but from time to time there’s a commitment that reverberates across the college football landscape.
Landing Derek Stingley Jr. is that kind of development.
The 2019 star cornerback committed to LSU via a tweet on Wednesday afternoon and announced he’d be shutting down his recruitment for good. He’s immediately one of the building blocks of a recruiting class that has the potential to finish as the best in the nation.
Here’s five things to know about the latest budding star headed to hone his talents at DBU:
- Local Roots
Stingley grew up right here in Baton Rouge and plays locally at the Dunham School. His father, Derek Stingley Sr., was a two-sport athlete in college who played baseball in the minor leagues before getting into coaching football. His grandfather Darryl played in the NFL.
Derek Jr. is one of the few stars on the roster at the Class 2A Dunham School, but that hasn’t stopped him from dominating the competition. He intercepted 11 passes and broke up six more during his junior season despite being targeted only 18 times all season. The one completion he allowed came at the end of a half.
Formerly a four-star prospect, Stingley committed to LSU back in June of 2016 only to re-open his recruitment in April of 2017. Some 14 months later he’s seemingly back staying home for good.
- Ready-made Star
LSU missed out on a supposed day-one starter in Patrick Surtain Jr. last National Signing Day, but they’re in position to rectify that loss in 2019 with Stingley now in the fold.
Those who have seen the prep star play in person are convinced he’s ready to step onto a college campus and contribute immediately. He’ll have to wait until December to sign and January to officially enroll, but don’t be surprised if he quickly ascends the depth chart once that time arrives.
“I think he’s the best recruit out of Louisiana since (Leonard) Fournette, and obviously that’s high company, but he’s a freak,” 247Sports recruiting expert Shea Dixon said. “He’s got everything you like in a corner, and he’s unbelievable on the field. I think he’s a day-one starter.”
LSU could potentially be starting two former top recruits at cornerback in 2019 with Stingley and Kristian Fulton, provided the latter sticks around through the end of his two-year suspension imposed by the NCAA.
- Physical Freak
Despite just turning 17 years old on Wednesday, Stingley has already put up the kind of athletic measurements that’re comparable to players selected at the top of the NFL Draft.
Listed at 6-foot-1 and 193 pounds, the teenager was recently laser timed as running a blazing 4.30-second 40-yard dash. He’s also been measure as having a 42-inch vertical leap. That’s a combination of size, speed and explosiveness rarely seen in a defensive back this side of Patrick Peterson.
“Guys in the NFL Combine aren’t doing that, and he’s only 16,” Dixon said.
- (No.) 1 of a Kind
LSU has signed its fair share of stars over the years, but commitments as highly-touted as Stingley don’t come around often.
The cornerback is the No. 1 overall prospect in the 2019 cycle, according to the latest rankings update from Rivals. First off, it’s rare for a defensive back to achieve such a lofty rating coming out of high school. It’s also rare that such a player winds up in purple and gold.
LSU’s last recruit to be ranked No. 1 by any of the three major services (247Sports, Rivals or ESPN) was Leonard Fournette, who finished first in the ESPN300 in 2014. Fournette was a consensus top-five player who finished No. 2 in 247 and No. 4 Rivals.
Going off the final rankings, LSU has landed two top-five players since 2010 according to 247 (Fournette and La’el Collins, who was No. 3 in 2011), three since 2006 according to ESPN (Fournette, Anthony Johnson was No. 2 in 2011 and Russell Shepard was No. 3 in 2009) and four since 2002 according to Rivals (Fournette, Reuben Randle was No. 2 in 2009, Patrick Peterson was No. 5 in 2008 and Early Doucet was No. 3 in 2004).
Here’s how many top-10 players that LSU has signed according to all three services, numbers that’re set to receive a bump after the 2019 class is tallied:
ESPN: 10 since 2006
247Sports: 6 since 2010
Rivals: 6 since 2002
- “Wise beyond his years”
The fact that Stingley announced his decision with a simple tweet instead of a hat-choosing ceremony or press conference speaks to him being the kind of low-maintenance star that’s increasingly rare in this day and age.
According to his father, who came on Tiger Rag Radio for an interview the night before decision day, that’s indicative of the business-like approach he’s taken to his recruitment process as a whole.
Derek Jr. decommitted from LSU in April of 2017 to take a look around and weigh his options. Per Derek Sr., he took visits to all three of his final schools — LSU, Texas and Florida — this past spring in order to gauge what the respective campuses are like during the offseason.
Now that he’s done that and settled on LSU as his next destination, he’ll focus on his school work in order to graduate early and prepare for his upcoming senior season.
“Derek has always been the type of kid — or young man now — that he doesn’t like a whole bunch of attention thrown his way,” Derek Sr. said. “He understands his position as one of the best players in the country, but he’s never been one to say, ‘Look at me.’ That’s not him.”
He continued: “He’s looking for a place where he can be comfortable. A lot of schools wanted his services, and he knew that. We took all the visits outside of football season because he wanted to feel what the campus felt like outside the game and all the extra stuff that comes with it. Derek wants to major in kinesiology and run a business one day, so he looked into how the academic centers help the student athletes and things like that. He had boxes he wanted to check. He’s wise beyond his years.”