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Three major pieces from the initial 2021 secondary are gone and now the new defensive coordinator will have work to do. It all started with a sophomore cornerback and former five-star recruit.
Eli Ricks, Transfer Portal
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When the season began, many were discussing the LSU secondary as having the best one-two punch in all of college football. Both players in Ricks and Derek Stingley Jr were former five-star recruits and led the team in interceptions as freshmen. The 2020 defense was abysmal at historic levels but Ricks was a bright spot.
He finished out his freshman campaign with four interceptions, two defensive touchdowns, five passes defended to go along with 20 tackles in eight games. Ricks was viewed as the next great cornerback, right behind his teammate Stingley.
However, his 2021 season was cut short due to a shoulder injury that he tried to fight through. After the season looked lost even at 3-2 in the games he played, Ricks shut it down after the Kentucky game and opted to have surgery to repair a torn labrum. On Nov. 23, he entered the transfer portal and committed to Alabama on Dec. 15.
One top cornerback was gone from the team. Then we had Stingley Jr.
Derek Stingley Jr, NFL Draft
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After his freshman campaign that ended with a CFP national championship, we knew what Derek Stingley Jr was. He was a ball-hawking cornerback that had the potential of a two-way threat. However, his sophomore campaign left a lot to be desired. After leading the team in 2019, Stingley Jr struggled the next season and played injured quite a bit.
His passes defended number dropped from 15 (2019) to five (2020). He wasn’t able to intercept a single pass but did force and recover a fumble. The 10-game season was cut short for Stingley as he played in just seven games that year. The 2021 campaign was set to be the return of the old Stingley and he would wear the No. 7 jersey.
It wasn’t a lucky number for the former No. 1 cornerback of the 2019 recruiting class. After dealing with injuries in fall camp, he appeared in just three games as a junior. He would record eight tackles, 3.5 TFLs, and one forced fumble before he shut it down.
As he heads to the NFL draft, LSU is left trying to figure out how to replace both starting cornerbacks. One of the guys that stepped up in their absence is also exiting stage left.
Another CB heading to the draft.
Cordale Flott, NFL Draft
AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis
Flott was tasked with stepping into a starting role this season with the losses of Ricks and Stingley. He would appear in 29 games over three seasons, with a career-high 11 games in 2021. Cordale Flott played a major role as a boundary cornerback for the defense.
This past season, Flott tallied 40 total tackles with one tackle for loss, one interception, one forced fumble, and three passes defended. In 2020, Flott accumulated 43 tackles to set a career-high. However, late in the season, he wasn’t available for the defense. They would have to rely on unproven guys as even Dwight McGlothern wouldn’t play in the bowl game.
It remains to be seen if McGlothern will return to the team in 2022. They also have a young cornerback in Sage Ryan that will need to step up and an incoming four-star freshman with Laterrance Welch. They added Ryan’s high school teammate Jordan Allen in the 2022 class as well.
The staff under Brian Kelly might need to grab a cornerback or two from the transfer portal with plenty of options available.