SEC football: 2015 Heisman hopefuls

5 of 5

Nov 8, 2014; Baton Rouge, LA, USA; LSU Tigers running back Leonard Fournette (7) is grabbed by Alabama Crimson Tide defensive lineman Jarran Reed (90) during the first quarter of a game at Tiger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Leonard Fournette, running back, Louisiana State

Lofty expectations are nothing new to LSU’s Leonard Fournette.

This is a player who was compared to Adrian Peterson, one of the best running backs in the NFL, before even stepping on the football field for the Tigers.

What is a little Heisman Trophy hype compared to that?

While Fournette did not come close to reaching the bar that Peterson set, recording 1,925 and 15 touchdowns during his freshman campaign with the Oklahoma Sooners, he did deliver some highlight reel plays that drew striking similarities.

It took a few games for Fournette to get adjusted to the college game, but once he did, he became a nightmare for opposing defenders. Just ask Texas A&M safety Howard Mathews, the most-publicized victim of the LSU running back’s imposing physicality last season.

The performance that would put Fournette at the national forefront and launch his 2015 Heisman campaign, however, would come a few weeks later during the Tigers’ bowl game loss to Notre Dame. He compiled 143 yards and two touchdowns on just 11 carries, but even more impressive was his game-changing speed, as he exploded for an 89-yard touchdown run and a 100-yard kickoff return in the losing effort.

Fournette already broke LSU’s freshman rushing record last season with 1,034 yards. This year, he will be the unquestioned star of the backfield with Kenny Hilliard and Terrance Magee departed to the NFL, and he will have his sights set on much loftier achievements.

The success of the Bayou Bengals will be riding on the shoulders of Fournette in 2015, and if they have any hope of making some noise in the College Football Playoff picture, they are going to need a Heisman-worthy performance from their running back.

Next: LSU football: 3 biggest games in 2015

More from Death Valley Voice