Editor’s note: The Advocate is counting down the days to LSU’s Sept. 4 season opener against Florida State with excerpts from the book “LSU By the Numbers.” Thursday marks 24 days until kickoff, so we’re looking back at the Tigers’ greatest No. 24, Gaynell “Gus” Tinsley:
24 Gaynell “Gus” Tinsley
College Football Hall of Fame inductee 1956
All-American and All-SEC 1935-36
LSU coach, 1948-54
In the first golden era of LSU football, Gaynell “Gus” Tinsley was the gold standard.
Born in 1915 in Ruple, a tiny Claiborne Parish crossroads in northeast Louisiana, the 6-foot-3, 215-pound Tinsley was considered a prototypical end in his day because of his size and mobility. His talents helped him become LSU’s first consensus All-American in 1935, an honor he repeated in 1936.
During his three seasons with the Tigers, Tinsley helped LSU to a record of 25-5-3, its first two SEC championships in 1935 and ‘36 and its first two Sugar Bowl appearances after those seasons. A dominant player on both sides of the ball, Tinsley scored 48 of LSU’s NCAA-leading 281 points in 1936 for a team that finished No. 2 in the first Associated Press poll.
“Tinsley could have made All-American at any position,” his coach, Bernie Moore, said. “He was so tough, he made blockers quit. He’s the greatest lineman I ever saw.”
In 1937, Tinsley was a second-round draft pick by the Chicago Cardinals. He became an All-Pro defensive end and led the NFL in receiving in 1938 with 36 catches for 675 yards. In 1939, Tinsley tied Don Hutson’s then-NFL record of 41 receptions before retiring from pro ball after the 1940 season.
“Never have I seen an end who could do everything so well,” the great Bronko Nagurski said of Tinsley.
In 1948, Tinsley succeeded Moore when his old coach left to become SEC commissioner, making him just the second former LSU player to coach the Tigers. The highlight of Tinsley’s tenure came in 1949, when his Cinderella Tigers shocked SEC champion Tulane 21-0 and grabbed a surprising invitation to the 1950 Sugar Bowl to meet Oklahoma.
Unfortunately, Tinsley’s tenure as coach was not a successful as his years as an LSU player. He was fired in 1954 after four losing campaigns in his seven seasons with a 35-34-6 record, opening the door for Paul Dietzel to take over. But two years later, Tinsley became LSU’s first former player to be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.
Tinsley died July 24, 2002, in Baton Rouge.
Art Cantrelle, RB, 1969-71
The Tigers’ leading rusher in 1970 and ’71, Cantrelle earned All-SEC honors both years and helped LSU to the 1970 SEC championship.
Lora Hinton, RB, 1973-75
Broke LSU football’s color barrier in 1971 as the first African American to sign with the Tigers. Rushed for 396 yards and two touchdowns in his career.
Derek Stingley, CB, 2019-21
One of the most impactful freshmen in LSU history, immediately stepping into a starting role on LSU’s national championship team and earning consensus All-American honors while grabbing an SEC-best six interceptions.
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