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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 is ready for the NFL now

LSU’s Leonard Fournette and Georgia’s Nick Chubb are a pair of talented sophomores battling for the title of best running back in the SEC.

Chubb has the clear statistical advantage after leading SEC running backs in yards per carry and rushing touchdowns in 2014. He also finished second in rushing yards, behind Auburn’s Cameron Artis-Payne.

While Fournette did not produce the same gaudy numbers that Chubb did as a freshman, he did something else. He established himself as a player that enters his sophomore season as an NFL-ready running back.

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Fournette was frequently compared to Minnesota Vikings star Adrian Peterson as a high school prospect for his lethal combination of size, speed and strength. As a 20-year old sophomore, he already has a nearly identical physical build to that of the former NFL MVP.

His LSU career got off to a slow start, but after taking over the starting running back job in Week 7, Fournette began to thrive. He capped of his freshman campaign by compiling a total of 289 yards and three touchdowns on just 30 carries during the final two games of the season. When all was said and done, Fournette had recorded the most prolific freshman season of any running back in LSU history.

One of the biggest keys to his growth as a player was a dedication to being a student of the game, as well as having two future NFL running backs on the roster to learn from in Terrence Magee and Kenny Hilliard.

"“When he first came in he was just running the ball,” Magee told NOLA.com. “He didn’t really understand what was going on conceptually. As the season went on and he progressed, started to learn more and get more comfortable in that offense, he understood the blocking schemes and some of the things the defense was doing, it allowed him to be more comfortable and press his holes a lot more. Maybe break off some big runs toward the end of the season. He really started to flourish.”"

In 2015, the Tigers will be leaning heavily on Fournette to carry them into the College Football Playoff. If he performs at the same level of play that he displayed at the end of his freshman season, this is a very real possibility.

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