Leonard Fournette’s dominant start to the season has sparked a debate that seems to be sweeping the nation and gaining steam: Should Fournette sit out his junior season so not to risk a pro career?
Players can’t enter the NFL draft until they are three years removed from high school. Fournette, a sophomore who graduated from St. Augustine High in 2014, is not eligible until the 2017 draft.
More than 20 players in the last four years have left LSU early for the draft as juniors and redshirt sophomores. But could a true sophomore leave early in his own way – by sitting out his junior season?
It’s a raging debate that Fournette – ever so subtly – joined Tuesday night with this tweet:
The tweet has been retweeted more than 2,000 times and favorited more than 1,700 times. Fournette has run for 631 yards through his first three games this season, surging up Heisman Trophy leaderboards. The former No. 1 ranked recruit in the nation in 2014, Fournette is a 3-to-2 favorite to win the trophy.
Les Miles was asked last year where Fournette would be drafted if he were eligible out of high school. He said in the mid-to-late rounds. Last week, ESPN analyst Mel Kiper Jr. said Fournette would be the No. 1 prospect in the draft if he were eligible this year.
It’s unclear if Fournette has any insurance policy, but it’s likely he does. Ohio State’s Maurice Clarett, in 2004, tried to challenge the NFL rules after just one year in college, but failed in courts.
National pundits – specially those covering the NFL – have weighed in on the debate: Should Fournette sit next season?
Like it or not: if Leonard Fournette announced he was sitting out next season, every GM in the NFL would question his love of the game
— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) September 29, 2015
Sites like Pro Football Talk, an entity of NBC Sports, claim Fournette should skip his junior season and sit out.
Yes, LSU RB Leonard Fournette should sit out the 2016 season, and no one should have a problem with that http://t.co/gHiEXDy8vc
— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) September 30, 2015
Fox Sports’ Stewart Mandel writes that Fournette sitting out would carry its own set of risks. More than a week ago The New York Times penned a story about the issue with the headline, “Only Thing in Leonard Fournette’s Way: N.F.L. Rule Book.”
It would be a mistake if Fournette would sit out as a junior, Marshall Faulk to ESPN radio recently, and LSU sports information director Michael Bonnette called ProFootballTalk’s take “insulting” to the player.