It didn’t result in much drama, and that was by design.
Cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. signed his National Letter of Intent to play for LSU while flanked by his parents in front of a packed chapel at the Dunham School Wednesday morning shortly after the early signing period began.
The only drama came when Stingley Jr. tried to put his LSU visor on before signing the document, but his hair got in the way forcing him to wait until after he made it official to sport the head wear.
“LSU is the place to be,” Stingley Jr. said. “It’s like home. it’s not a four-year program, it’s a 40-year program. If you come here you can do whatever you want job-wise after football in this area.”
Despite being one of the top recruits in the country, Stingley Jr. didn’t spend his time in the recruiting machine in search of the limelight.
Instead, as his father Derek Stingley Sr. put it, Stingley Jr. held all the cards due to his status, allowing him to play the recruiting game the way he wanted.
“It wasn’t as bad as most people think it would be because of Derek’s ranking as a recruit,” Stingley Sr. said. “He was always in control. He took his time and made sure he answered every coach and talked to them on his own time and got back with them on a timely fashion.
“He went about it the right way. He never led a team on.”
Prior to signing, Dunham head football coach Neil Weiner spoke about Stingley Jr. and what he meant to the program.
He lauded Stingley Jr. for his work ethic, and said his coaching staff would be foolish to take credit for his accomplishments.
“When the most talented player on your team is the hardest-working player on your team, you know you’ve got something special,” Weiner said. “There’s a reason why these last four years Dunham’s experienced on the football field some of the greatest success that we’ve had in school history. … So much of that is because of his incredible work ethic and the talent he has.”
Stingley Jr. finished his careers with 27 interceptions despite spending much of the latter part of his high school career with teams avoiding throwing in his direction at all costs, Weiner said.
He also returned 15 punts or kicks for touchdowns.
“Which I know LSU fans are excited about,” Weiner said.
While Stingley Jr. dominated the competition in high school — he didn’t give up a single touchdown pass during his time at Dunham — he said he’s most looking forward to going up against guys who are on the same level or better than he is.
“I’m most excited about going in and competing against people who want to beat me as much as I want to beat them and going against people who have the ability to beat me,” Stingley Jr. said. “That will only help me get better because iron sharpens iron.”
Weiner also revealed that Stingley Jr.’s classmates threw him a surprise going away party last week as he plans to enroll early to LSU in January.
Stingley Jr. said having the Dunham community supporting him in such a way throughout his career meant a lot to both him and his family.
“It means a lot,” Stingley Jr. said. “I didn’t think all these people were going to come, but they came. It’s pretty cool.”
In addition to the normal speculation that comes with being one of the nation’s top prospects, a lot of people have wondered what jersey number Stingley would wear when he arrived on campus. He wore No. 24 in high school, but there’s been a lot of chatter about whether or not he could earn the coveted No. 7 jersey that some of his predecessors like Patrick Peterson and Tyrann Mathieu wore.
He said that’s up to LSU to decide.
“Right now, I will wear the No. 24 until they think I’ve earned the No. 7,” Stingley Jr. said.