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All-American cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. may have played his last game at LSU, or he could be back as soon as a week from Saturday for the Tigers’ game at Kentucky.
“I’m not giving out information right now,” Stingley’s father, Derek Stingley Sr., said on Friday morning in a phone interview. “We’re still deciding what to do.”
Stingley missed LSU’s last game at Missississippi State a week ago after aggravating a foot injury on Sept. 22 that had kept him out of most preseason practices in August. Stingley saw a foot specialist outside of LSU on Wednesday or Thursday of this week, LSU coach Ed Orgeron said.
“I don’t think there’s any way he plays,” Orgeron said Thursday night when asked about Stingley’s status for Saturday’s game between LSU (3-1, 1-0 SEC) and No. 22 Auburn (3-1) at 8 p.m. in Tiger Stadium on ESPN. LSU is a 3.5-point favorite at FanDuel.
“We’ll know at the end of this week on what we have to do,” the elder Stingley said Monday on Jordy Culotta’s YouTube talk show on which Stingley regularly appears.
Asked on Monday whether his son would play again this season, Stingley said, “My feeling is there’s a good chance if we get the diagnosis we’re hoping for. But if it’s surgery, there’s a good chance (his return) may not happen. I’m thinking, there’s no surgery needed, to be honest. So there’s a chance.”
Stingley would not answer on Friday whether the foot specialist had recommended surgery.
A junior from Dunham High in Baton Rouge, Stingley is considered a top five or 10 selection in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft by draft expert Mike Detillier of WWL Radio in New Orleans as well as others.
Stingley, the grandson of the late former New England Patriot wide receiver Darryl Stingley, was a first team All-American by eight publications as a freshman in 2019 when the Tigers won the national championship. He led the SEC and was fifth nationally in interceptions that season with six. He was also No. 2 in the nation and No. 1 in the SEC in passes defended with 21. He returned 17 punts in 2019 for a 9.5-yard average.
Stingley missed three games in the 2020 season. He was rushed to the hospital the night before the season opener with an unknown illness, but returned to play games two through eight before sitting out the last two with a minor injury. He was still named a first team All-American by the American Football Coaches Association. Because of his skill, quarterbacks avoided his side of the field, so Stingley broke up just five passes while forcing a fumble and recovering one with no interceptions that year.
In three games this season, Stingley has eight tackles with 2.5 for losses and a forced fumble.
During the SEC teleconference on Wednesday, Orgeron seemed unclear about Stingley’s plans.
“I think he’s in the process of seeing the doctor this week,” he said. “May be seeing a doctor today. Flew out of town to see a doctor. So, we haven’t seen any results. We haven’t heard anything. I think he’s in the process of seeing the doctor today.”
LSU’s defense improved without Stingley in the 28-25 win at Mississippi State on Saturday. Bulldog quarterback Will Rogers completed 47 of 62 passes for 371 yards and three touchdowns, but he only completed three passes of more than 20 yards. His longest was 29. LSU entered the game having given up touchdown passes of 78, 75, 45 and 44 yards.
“It’s basically the same foot injury (from August),” Stingley said of his son on Monday. “We’re going to get another opinion on it as far as what direction he needs to go in. He wanted to play (at Mississippi State). But it’s one of those injuries where we’ve got to be real careful because it can get worse. There’s some major stuff going on in there. We have to get some opinions from some foot specialists. If this is something that needs surgery, we need to attack it now.”
Draft prospects typically begin preparing for the draft in January.
“He has no swelling. There’s no bruising,” Stingley said. “It’s painful. I don’t think he can be the athlete that he wants to be without some form of rehab or possibly surgery. Derek wants to get out there. He wants to play.”
Stingley participated in pre-game warm-ups at State.
“You should’ve seen him. He was out there with the players helping them get ready,” Stingley said. “Derek wants to play. The NFL will be there. The time line is still what it is if he chooses to come out this year for the draft. The main focus for us is getting him healthy and see if we can get him out their ASAP.”