In 1997 Michigan Wolverines defensive back Charles Woodson became the first defensive player to win the illustrious Heisman Memorial Trophy. Since 1935 this award was reserved for the most outstanding college football player in the country, it took 62 years before a defensive player managed to get his hands on it. 62 college football season until a defensive player did enough to win the ultimate individual accolade.

No one has done it since either.

There have been guys who looked like they could make it; Chase Young, Ndamukong Suh and Derwin James all could’ve gotten their hands on the Heisman but just fell short, but in 2021, another defensive player has a shot.

Now going into the 2021 college football season there is one man who will have all eyes on him. A man who by most people’s estimations is the best player in college football right now. Derek Stingley Jr. is the shining star of a loaded LSU secondary, set to play on special teams and offence as well as being the team’s number one corner…sound familiar? 

Now I know how this looks, the LSU homer predicting an LSU defensive back to win the Heisman. The LSU homer marking an LSU defensive back as the greatest corner talent he’s seen in the last 10 years. That’s why I’m going to have everyone’s favourite podcast host Lee Wakefield come in to tell you just how good Derek is.

Derek Stingley Jr. brings down an interception against Utah State in 2019 Photo Credit:

“So I’m here to tell you just how good Stingley is, from a neutral point of view – We know Kieran is a die-hard LSU guy who bleeds purple and gold, and that he’s passionate when it comes to LSU takes, but I think he’s potentially on to something here.

Derek Stingley is the best corner prospect to come out since Jalen Ramsey in 2016. It’s as plain as that, Stingley is an elite talent, at one of the premium positions of football and he is the most valuable and converted type of corner; a lockdown, man-coverage corner who you can leave on an island and expect, not ask but expect to delete the opponent’s number one receiver out of the game. This is the kind of player that you can build a defense around, much like the aforementioned, Woodson, Ramsey or someone like a prime Darrelle Revis.

What does this mean? Well for a start, it should mean that Stingley is the highest corner drafted since Denzel Ward was selected 4th overall by the Cleveland Browns in 2018. Keiran and I recently said that Stingley is the best player in college football on our recent  Defensive Backs Summer Scouting podcast episode (go and check it out if you haven’t already), but what I will say is that he’s got to go out there and prove it all over again after a slight down year in 2020, when compared to his monstrous 2019 film, anyway.

As a player, Stingley plays with excellent patience at the line of scrimmage, he plays press-man coverage extremely well, using his long arms to strike the receivers to throw off routes and timing. He’s a smooth athlete who is always in control of the rep, he’s got speed and fantastic change of direction skills, which allow him to play every kind of coverage technique, match routes and also recover on the rare occasion that someone does beat him. As well as his speed and agility, he’s also got rare explosion – I expect Stingley to test off the charts at the Combine – both in terms of acceleration and vertical explosion. It was that vertical explosion, mixed with his coverage abilities that allowed him to snag six interceptions in 2019, so production is there and is at a level where offenses are thinking twice about throwing the ball his way. As a defender, when the offense is altering their game plan because of you, that’s a win.”

All in all, I’m really excited to see what Stingley does this year, I want to see him return to his dominant self on the defensive side of the ball first and foremost, but if he wants that Heisman, and he plays in all three phases of the game, then he could become a college football legend. 

So now you know how good Derek is let me tell you why he’s going to be the first defensive Heisman winner since 1997. Simply put, utility. Derek is going to do everything Woodson did. He’s going to return kicks, he’s going to line up at WR on big third downs and redzone situations.

He’s going to be too big to ignore.

If the best corner in the country (and it’s not even close by the way) is also racking up offensive touchdowns, return touchdowns alongside his absolute lockdown coverage on defence…can you ignore that? Of course you can’t!

Derek isn’t going to do anything new to get a shot at the Heisman, he’s just going to follow the blueprint set by Woodson almost 24 years ago. No defensive player has won the Heisman in Derek’s lifetime so it’s fitting that a once in a lifetime player wins a once in a lifetime achievement. 

Follow Kieran on Twitter – @TheHimboF10Y

Follow Lee on Twitter – @Wakefield90

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