With a quick scribble, St. Augustine running back Leonard Fournette on Wednesday morning became an LSU Tiger, marking the end of the recruiting process for the nation’s top recruit.
Fournette, who enjoyed seeminly unlimited scholarship options, said he could have signed with Alabama, the Tigers’ top competition for his services.
Yet he didn’t. He wanted to be different.
“I could have went to Alabama like everybody else did,” Fournette said of Alabama’s recruiting success under coach Nick Saban, who is undefeated in BCS title games at LSU and Alabama (4-0), making him the most successful coach of the BCS era.
That wasn’t enough for Fournette. Perhaps it was too much.
“I wanted to be different than everybody. I wanted to earn it myself,” he said. “Instead of going to a school that’s so — what can I say? — tremendous at winning championships, why not create a tradition on your own?”
For Fournette, there’s no place better to accomplish this than his home state. LSU’s Les Miles is 1-1 in BCS title games, including a loss to Alabama in the game after the 2011 season.
Fournette said running back Jeremy Hill’s decision to declare for the draft after his redshirt sophomore season was not a major part of his decision. Had Hill stayed, Fournette added, they would have teamed for a dominant one-two punch in the backfield.
“I’m ready to get in Tigerland and grind,” he said. “Nothing is given to you. You have to go out and earn it. I’m going to go out there as a regular freshman and work my way up.”
Fournette was one of 12 St. Augustine players to sign Wednesday. Coach Cyril Crutchfield said he expects another five to sign in time to suit up in college this fall.
“I tell him all the time: In a couple of years, you’ll be going to New York, you’ll be a Heisman finalist,” Crutchfield said. “In three years, you’ll be going back (to New York) because you’ll be a top pick in the NFL. I think the sky is the limit for that young man because he’s so well-rounded.”