Star LSU cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. will wear the coveted No. 7 jersey this season.
The university announced the number change Tuesday afternoon in a social media post, which included highlights of the former No. 24 that show why the All-American defensive back will join the long list of star defenders to wear the number.
The 6-foot-1, 195-pound junior has lived up to his five-star billing in his two seasons in Baton Rouge. Stingley, a Dunham School graduate, has twice been named first-team All-Southeastern Conference and was named a consensus All-American as a true freshman in 2019, when LSU won its fourth national championship in school history.
Stingley missed three games because of injury and non-coronavirus related sickness as a sophomore in 2020. By that point, some believed it was possible he'd be wearing No. 7 already. Former free safety JaCoby Stevens wore the number last season, and, after departing for the NFL draft, Stingley becomes the most recent star defender to receive the honor.
"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 statement. "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."
LSU's No. 7 jersey is generally awarded to the team's top playmaker, regardless of position.
Former wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase was initially given the number after his breakout 2019 season in which he won the Biletnikoff Award and set then-SEC single-season records in yards (1,780) and touchdown catches (20). After Chase opted out of the season during preseason camp, the jersey was then awarded to Stevens.
While offensive skill players have worn the number — perhaps most notably former All-America running back Leonard Fournette — it is mostly associated with LSU's rich history of defensive backs.
Those include Patrick Peterson, a 2010 Thorpe Award winner for nation's top defensive back and All-America cornerback; Tyrann Mathieu, a 2011 Heisman Trophy finalist and Bednarik Award-winning safety for nation's defensive player of the year; and Grant Delpit, a 2019 Thorpe winner and unanimous All-America safety.
Stingley led the SEC with six interceptions in 2019, which ranked fifth nationally. He did not record an interception in 2020, but totaled five passes defended and five break-ups while forcing one fumble and recovering another. The speedy Stingley is also an adept punt returner, totaling 260 yards on 23 returns.
"It's an honor to be part of the legacy of players that have worn the No. 7 jersey," Stingley said in a statement. "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."