At a program like LSU you want to make sure you get a pulse on the roster as soon as you can, especially the draft eligible guys. With the SEC sending what seems to be a record-setting number of players to the NFL every year, the ones at the top are guys who are going to be talked about long before draft season even starts. Typically those players come from the bigger programs, that's why a place like LSU always has to be on your radar.
Last season was no different, LSU had plenty of prospects of note, but a big one going into the season was a cornerback named Greedy Williams. I watched Williams during the summer, and, man, was there a lot to like with his freshman tape. This kid was long and athletic. He liked playing man coverage and had the translatable skills to play the most difficult style of cornerback at the NFL level -- which is also the style that gets coveted the most come draft time.
As I circled back around to watch Williams this time last year, I saw a good amount of the same stuff. Williams was asked to cover some of the top receivers in the SEC and was doing so pretty well. But as I continued to watch Williams throughout the year, I noticed my attention kept getting drawn elsewhere. As Williams was the top cover player, teams would often try to avoid him by setting up passing plays to the opposite side of the field. In doing so, they continued to go after LSU's No. 2 cornerback. The more they did, the more I came to the conclusion that this was no ordinary CB2, and in fact, when the season wrapped up, the player opposite Williams looked like the best cover corner on the team.
That player was Kristian Fulton, a former 5-star cornerback whose playing time with the Tigers took an unfortunate turn early on in his collegiate career.
After limited action in his true freshman season, Fulton was suspended for a year after a failed PED test. In February of 2017, Fulton was scheduled to take a standard drug test for PEDs. Fulton, who thought the test was for street drugs, tried to use someone else's sample. When he got caught, Fulton received a two-year ban from the NCAA for tampering with a drug test.
Fulton ended up taking the drug test a month later, and though he did test positive for THC, he didn't test positive for PEDs, which was the reason for the test. A year later, now with a full season of eligibility gone, Fulton filed an appeal to the NCAA citing the proper protocol was not taken during the test. His first appeal was denied, but after taking new action, saying the NCAA charged Fulton with "tampering" (a two year penalty) when he should have been charged with "urine substitution" (a one year penalty), the NCAA agreed and Fulton was made eligible immediately. That brought us to what we saw in 2018.
Despite getting draft hype after just one year as a starter -- a year after not playing football for a full season -- Fulton decided to stay at LSU. Though he went into 2019 as the headline cornerback for LSU, his name has since not been the one talked about most -- he's getting his own Greedy Williams treatment. The Tigers have a true freshman cornerback named Dereck Stingley Jr. who, if you don't know him yet, you certainly will. Stingley is tied for sixth in the country with four interceptions, and is tied for seventh in the country with 13 passes defended. Since Singley has been targeted more as the man opposite Fulton, he has stepped up big time.
What we need to be carful of is not letting Stingley's success dim Fulton's light. Fulton still has nine passes defended and eight passes broken up, both of which are Top 50 in the country. According to PFF, through 10 weeks of the season, Fulton is a Top 10 cornerback in the nation with an elite coverage grade for the season. Against Auburn, he gave up only three catches for a total of 32 yards. Against Mississippi State, he yielded just one catch on five targets, plus nabbed an interception. Even around the stats, Fulton just does not give up big plays.
It's weird to say "let's not forget about this guy who has been a projected first round pick since the beginning of August," when referencing Fulton. But the talk of Stingley's incredible year just made me want to remind everyone that, yes, you can like more than one cornerback on a team. At LSU this year, you definitely should.
Fulton has his toughest test of the year this week against Alabama and the likes of Jerry Jeudy, Henry Ruggs, DeVonta Smith and even Jaylen Waddle. All four of those guys are future NFL players.
But so is Fulton.
We'll see the best go up against the best in Tuscaloosa this week.