From the moment Derek Stingley Jr. signed with LSU in 2019, he seemed destined to wear the prestigious No. 7 for the Tigers.
That inevitability became reality this week when LSU announced that its standout junior would be the next Tiger to don the number, given each season to the team’s most dynamic playmaker.
“It’s an honor to be part of the legacy of players that have worn the No. 7 jersey,” Stingley said in a press release. “I’m looking forward to upholding the tradition and the standard of play that has been set by the group that has come before me.”
Stingley’s Tweet from his recruiting visit in 2018:
The Baton Rouge native ranked as the third-highest player ever recruited to LSU, according to 247sports, behind only Leonard Fournette—another former No. 7—and Russell Shepard.
He’s lived up to that hype since arriving on campus, too, earning All-American honors in each of his first two college seasons. Stingley led the SEC with six interceptions as a true freshman and has also racked up a total of 65 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, 26 pass breakups, two fumble recoveries and one forced fumble in 22 appearances in purple and gold.
The former Dunham School star has also been LSU’s first-team punt returner for two years, averaging 11.3 yards on 23 total returns.
“Derek is very deserving of following in the footsteps of some of the great players in LSU history in wearing the No. 7 jersey,” LSU coach Ed Orgeron said in a press release. “Derek is an outstanding young man from right here in Baton Rouge who represents our program with tremendous character and a desire to make all of those around him better. He inspires his teammates to achieve great things on and off the field. He’s most deserving of wearing the No. 7 jersey in 2021 for the LSU Tigers. I know he will wear it with pride and will represent it well.”
Stingley is the next in a long line of defensive backs to earn No. 7.
The tradition began with fellow cornerback Patrick Peterson, who was also a three-year start for the Tigers from 2008-10. Peterson won the Bednarik Award for the nation’s top defender and the Thorpe Award for the nation’s top defensive back in his time at LSU before being taken fifth overall by the Arizona Cardinals in the 2011 NFL draft.
Peterson passed the number on to Tyrann Mathieu, another defensive back, who had a historic 2011 season for the Tigers before being dismissed from the team a year later after reportedly failing multiple drug tests.
The Honey Badger was a unanimous All-American that year and finished fifth in the Heisman voting. He was eventually selected in the third round of the 2013 NFL draft—also by the Cardinals—and will be entering his eighth season in the league this fall.
I told my coach at LSU I wanted #7 cause I felt the responsibility for my brother to live through me one more season, he left college early….. look what it has become…. 7era…. You can’t tell a story about LSU football and leave out the boy. I am Louisiana State!
The number went without an owner for a couple season until Fournette took it over in 2014. He set multiple school records in his time at LSU and was ultimately taken No. 4 overall by the Jacksonville Jaguars in the 2017 NFL draft.
After Fournette’s departure, No. 7 stayed on the offensive side of the ball for another season with wide receiver D.J. Chark. It would bounce back and forth from offense to defense in the following seasons, going from Chark to safety Grant Delpit, to wideout Ja’Marr Chase, and most recently to safety JaCoby Stevens.