LSU to retire Jerry Stovall’s No. 21

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Jerry Stovall will become the third former LSU player to have his number retired into the Tiger Stadium rafters later this fall, the school announced Tuesday.

However, in an odd arrangement — and is there any other at LSU? — Stovall’s number won’t actually be retired. While his No. 21 will join Billy Cannon‘s No. 20 and Tommy Casanova‘s No. 37 high atop Death Valley, only Cannon’s No. 20 is actually off limits to current Tigers. Senior safety Ed Paris will continue to wear No. 21, should he so choose.

Still, the fact that his retired number isn’t actually retired doesn’t dampen the honor for Stovall.

“This is the most humbling honor that you can ever imagine,” Stovall said in a statement, “because it’s an honor that you never, ever consider to be within your grasp. I was fortunate to play at LSU at a very special time when we had an extremely talented group of players, coaches and trainers. Any player from that time that has won an award has always said, ‘There is only one name on this trophy, but there should be 100 names on this trophy.’ This honor is for all of the young men that were my teammates and the coaches that pushed us to strive for greatness.”

Known as Mr. Everything during his time on campus, Stovall played halfback, defensive back, kick returner and punter while in Baton Rouge from 1960-62. He helped the Bayou Bengals to an SEC championship in 1961 and was a runner-up to Oregon State’s Terry Baker in the 1962 Heisman voting. A two-time All-SEC honoree and a unanimous First Team All-American, Stovall posted a 1,000-yard rushing season, a 450-yard receiving season, amassed 700 return yards, set a school record for punting average and snared seven career interceptions.

A first round pick of the St. Louis Cardinals in 1963, Stovall was a two-time All-Pro and played in three Pro Bowls.

He returned to campus in 1980 as LSU’s head coach, where he went 22-21-2 in four seasons before he was fired in 1983.

“People need to know that above and beyond the call of duty, as it relates to a football coach and as a person, that it doesn’t get much better than Jerry,” Stovall’s former quarterback Alan Risher told The Advocate. “If he’s going to be up there with Casanova and Cannon, you think of class and integrity and honesty.”

Stovall was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2010. The 77-year-old lives in his native West Monroe, La.

The date for Stovall’s jersey retirement is still to be determined.