Leonard Fournette has the potential to produce at a historic rate for the LSU football team in 2015.
When Leonard Fournette arrived on campus a year ago, he was being regarded as the best high school running back prospect since Adrian Peterson. Now, he has an opportunity to go down in the LSU football record books.
He has already cemented his place in the program’s decorated history by setting the freshman rushing record last season. If everything falls into place this year, he will have much greater accolades in his sights.
Of course there is the Heisman Trophy hype, which given his outstanding performance at the end of last season, should come as no surprise. Fournette saved his best for last, exploding for 189 rushing yards and three touchdowns on just 30 carries during the final two games of the season. He also returned a kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown during the team’s bowl game against Notre Dame.
In doing so, he established himself as one of the most dangerous playmakers in college football for 2015.
What makes Fournette so dangerous is his ability to dominate in all aspects of the running game. He possesses the agility to make players miss, the speed to break off big runs against the fastest defenders on the field and, if all else fails, the strength to simply run over opposing tacklers.
ESPN recently conducted a poll of SEC defenders, asking who the toughest player to tackle in the conference was. Fournette narrowly edged Georgia’s 2014 first team All-SEC running back Nick Chubb for the title.
“[He’s] big, strong and fast,” Florida defensive end Jonathan Bullard told ESPN. “Usually you get the guys who are big and they’re going to run straight. With him, you’ve got to worry about him using his outside foot and shifting. He’s mobile too. You can’t just say, ‘He’s about to run me over.’ “
Fournette finished his freshman season with 1,034 rushing yards, 10 touchdowns and 5.5 yards per carry, as well as 127 receiving yards. In 2015, he should destroy those numbers.
Barring injury, the only thing that will prevent Fournette from doing so is a lack of touches during cupcake games against McNeese State, Syracuse, Eastern Michigan and Western Kentucky.
But will he be able to surpass LSU’s single-season rushing records of 1,687 yards and 19 touchdowns, set by Charles Alexander (1977) and LeBrandon Toefield (2001), respectively?
It is very possible. Fournette is going to be the focal point of the offense in 2015, and unlike backs in recent years, he will not lose carries due to a running back-by-committee system. If he sees upwards of 20 carries per game, a record-setting season becomes even more likely.
Here is a look at the numbers we predict from Leonard Fournette’s sophomore campaign.
Doak Walker Award finalist (nation’s most outstanding running back)
Heisman Trophy finalist
First team All-American
First team All-SEC
Rushing yards: 1680
Rushing touchdowns: 16
Yards per carry: 6.0
Receiving yards: 160
Receiving touchdowns: 2
Kickoff returns for touchdown: 1