LSU Football draft eligible Tigers: Leonard Fournette

Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports /

January 16th is the deadline for all underclassmen, including LSU Football potential graduate transfers, to declare for the NFL Draft.

Over the course of the next couple of weeks, are going to spotlight some of the Tigers who will be targeted on the first two days of the Draft.

Full disclosure, my first taste of coaching football was at a local playground in Metairie (LA) called Mike Miley. I was fortunate enough to create a bond with one of my players, and was able to help mentor him all throughout his high school years. Through him I was able to keep track of all the goings on of high school football in the area; as well as some of the up and coming talent in the SE Louisiana Region.

Because of his desires to play both WR/DB I found out about a WR he wished to either be like, or have the ability to cover, in Isidore Newman standout: Odell Beckham, Jr. But once he started playing for East Jefferson High School, I got to learn about a few more players. One in particular stood out because they faced them two, or three, times during his playing career at East Jeff.

It’s one thing to hear about a dynamic player being discussed on various media outlets; it’s another to actually watch him perform before your very eyes.

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The one person receiving that type of attention in New Orleans – and throughout Louisiana – at that time was a RB from St. Augustine High School: Leonard Fournette.

Every season, during the week of the St. Aug Game, I would try to instill confidence in my guy that he could not only beat the Purple Knights, but he could help his defense limit what Fournette could do on the ground.

I was only right about one of those things – and I was right just once. After watching Leonard rack up 200-plus yards rushing, like a parent playing against his kids, I contacted everyone I knew to let them know that the next great football player resided in New Orleans, LA.

Many were just as thrilled as I was upon Fournette’s arrival to LSU.

I proclaimed that he would be LSU’s version of Adrian Peterson, and may possibly win the Heisman as a freshman. Unfortunately, it didn’t happen as quickly as we all assumed it would.

He finished his true freshman campaign with 1,034 yards rushing, and 10 TD’s. That gave Tiger’s Fans just enough of a taste to get the hype machine reloaded again for his sophomore campaign; and hopefully a Heisman finish. For some, he didn’t disappoint.

He ended his 2nd season as a Tiger with 1,953 yards rushing and 22 TD’s. However, given his lack luster game vs Alabama, and LSU having a season that almost got Coach Les Miles fired, Fournette was not even invited to New York, and the fanbase’s hopes of him being the golden child were starting to fade away.

In his third and final season as an LSU Tiger, Fournette was only able to muster up 843 yards rushing and 8 TDs.  In his defense, the year started off with an ankle injury that would plague him throughout the season.

Then there was the eventual firing of the man who recruited him to play for LSU – head coach Les Miles. The rare bright spot of his junior campaign was the single game record that he broke against Ole Miss with 285 yards rushing.

Fournette finished his career with 616 carries for 3,830 yards rushing and 40 TD’s. His career totals ranks him 4th all-time at LSU behind Kevin Faulk (4,557), Dalton Hilliard (4,050), and Charles Alexander (4,035).

Fournette is known far more for his running ability than for his receiving capability. On his career he racked up a total 41 catches for 526 yards and 1 TD. Because his numbers aren’t exactly jaw-dropping in that category – and he’s entering the draft with injuries – he will enter the league with the power back stigma.

This means he will be labeled more so as a 1st and 2nd down back who will need to be on a “pitch” count for his season carries.

Given the 1st 20 picks in the draft, barring any trades, I still see Fournette being a first day pick in this year’s draft.

Likely landing spots for Fournette include the Carolina Panthers, Philadelphia Eagles and Indianapolis Colts.