The LSU football program didn’t see the kind of success they’d hoped for this past season. After a record-setting, undefeated campaign in 2019, the Tigers came crashing back down into earth.
However, they hope for a return to college football prominence in 2021, especially with their new top cornerback duo. Back in 2019, Derek Stingley Jr. burst onto the scene. Even as a true freshman, he was instantly one of the top defensive backs in the country.
Kristian Fulton, a second-round pick by the Tennessee Titans in the 2020 NFL Draft, was an effective option opposite Stingley. In fact, he’s a big reason why the first-year player brought in an SEC-leading six interceptions.
Fulton’s replacement last season, five-star cornerback Elias Ricks, might be even better though.
As Glen West with LSU Country recently pointed out in an article, Pro Football Focus sees Stingley and Ricks as two of the top 5 cornerbacks in the country. There’s only one other cornerback on the list from the SEC: Alabama’s Josh Jobe.
Top-5 returning CBs in college football 🔒 pic.twitter.com/O54TVKE48g
— PFF College (@PFF_College) May 14, 2021
Now, that might surprise people after watching LSU rank last in the SEC in passing yards allowed per game (323.0) last season. The defense was torched on a week-to-week basis, but as West points out, that is more the result of poor communication than talent.
The Tigers now have a new defensive coordinator, Daronte Jones, who comes to the college ranks after being the secondary coach for the Minnesota Vikings. In other words, Jones knows defensive backs, which means he understands what he has in Stingley and Ricks.
Now add in Cordale Flott, a more than serviceable No. 3 cornerback, and it’s easy to see why people are high on this group. There’s plenty of experience and playmaking ability, which should help take pressure off other position groups on defense.
If LSU is going to be a true contender in the SEC West once again, they’ll need big performances from Stingley and Ricks this season.
Follow Clint Lamb on Twitter @ClintRLamb.