LSU's Derek Stingley Jr. turns heads, but the late grandfather always has it in his head


The reflex hammer hit the right knee.

Tap. Tap. Tap.

Then the left knee.

Touch. Tap. Tap.

There was no answer. Darryl Stingley was placed on a stretcher. The Patriots recipient never left.

Derek Stingley Jr. learned what football was worst when he was in kindergarten and watched the culmination of the malicious hit on his grandfather.

"Every time I'm on the field, I think of him and my father," said LSU's star corner before the Tigers' semi-final victory over Oklahoma. “Injuries are part of the game. But if you think like this and play fearfully, that's not the way to play. "

On Monday, the newcomer will find out what football is at its best when La Baton Rouge, who was born, tries to bring the LSU his first national championship in twelve years and faces Clemson in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

The boy, who adored former LSU full-back Patrick Peterson and initially committed himself to local power when he was 14, became the First Team All-American consensus in his first college season. He led the SEC with six interceptions and took second place nationwide in defended passports. (21) while serving as the top ranked LSU primary punt returner.

"If there was an adjustment, it was from the time we broke the mess to the time he covered the phone," said coach Ed Orgeron about Stingley's transition from high school. "He's one of the best cornerbacks I've ever seen."

Jack Tatum's hit on Darryl Stingley paralyzed the phone.
Jack Tatum's hit on Darryl Stingley paralyzed the phone.AP

Shortly after Darryl told his son, Derek Sr., that his quick grandson (5 years old at the time) would be special that New England's previous election died in the first round in 2007.

Darryl was 26 and came out of his best of five NFL seasons when Raiders safety Jack Tatum hit the head of the defenseless receiver with a devastating blow in a preseason game in 1978. Darryl broke two vertebrae and spent the last three decades of his life as a quadriplegic. He always viewed the injury as a "crazy accident". He encouraged his son to follow his sports dream.

Derek Sr. became a two-sport star and spent three years in the Phillies farm system and a decade on the defensive – especially in the Arena Football League – when he spent three days on the Jets training team brushing the NFL.

As a long-time Arena League trainer, Derek Sr. brought his prepubescent son to team meetings and film screenings so that the gifted child could take part in exercises. As a personal trainer, Derek Sr. helped his son develop into an exceptionally athletic cornerback who played college in eighth grade and became the best recruit in the country.

Derek Sr. regularly visits his son's practices at LSU.

"I have never had a player ready to play like Derek Stingley Jr. and I think his father had a lot to do with it," said Orgeron last week. "In fact, I know he did it. I am very good friends with his father. I have great respect for his father. He is an excellent trainer, an excellent father. He and Derek have a really unique relationship. "

Derek Jr. was part of the team before his college career officially began. After graduating from high school and enrolling at LSU, Stingley worked with the team before the Fiesta Bowl last season. In his first practice session, the 17-year-old relied on Joe Burrow, the quarterback who would soon win the Heisman Trophy.

"Derek is as humble as I saw it. Recruit # 1 comes in sometimes and they are all cocky and loud and Derek hasn't said a word for three months," said Burrow. "When I was training, I would try very hard to find Derek's way to see if he was as good as everyone said he was. I can tell you, yes, he is. Yes, he is."

He is better than he thought. It is better than he thought.

"It's crazy because I watch these people on TV like I did last year, and now I'm facing them," said Derek Jr. "The coolest thing is when I stand on the other side and see all the coaches who do I watch TV all the time and they are right with me.

"I didn't think it would be like that. I thought I was fine, but not the way I was doing it. I never thought things would end that way."