LSU RB Leonard Fournette surprised even coach Les Miles with plans to donate jersey _lowres

LSU running back Leonard Fournette (7) stands on the field before an NCAA college football game against Eastern Michigan in Baton Rouge, La., Saturday, Oct. 3, 2015. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

LSU coach Les Miles didn’t know what Leonard Fournette had planned. Following LSU’s relocated 45-24 win against South Carolina, the sophomore running back announced his intentions to donate his game jersey to the relief effort for flood victims in the Palmetto State.

He read a prepared statement, kept in his shoulder pads, during a live post-game interview with ESPN, garnering national attention. But it was at first unclear if the NCAA would allow Fournette to auction his jersey.

Miles said he explained that to Fournette, who “understood completely,” after he made the announcement.

“I said that we don’t know that it’s legal at this point,” the coach said. “It’s certainly not something where we can give things that are lent to us by this school, or donating to auction, considering they’re not ours to donate.”

Later that night, the NCAA tweeted Fournette could submit his jersey for auction. The jersey is a part of a package that includes a Miles-signed LSU helmet and a South Carolina helmet signed by Gamecocks’ coach Steve Spurrier, who resigned a few days after the loss.

“When that cleared (the NCAA), which happened very quickly, it became a great idea,” Miles said. “It was one that Leonard Fournette came up with, one that was of his making, which I think is very special.”

The auction begins at 7 a.m. Saturday and ends 11 a.m. Monday, with the starting bid set at $7,000.

Fournette on Henry

Fournette certainly has a lot of admiration for his counterpart in Saturday night’s game -- Alabama junior Derrick Henry.

The 6-foot-3, 242-pound Henry is bigger than most college running backs, including Fournette, who’s not small by any stretch of the imagination at 6-1 and 230 pounds.

“He’s a great running back. … I told my defense, ‘Man, you have got to get ready to tackle him,’” Fournette said. “He’s huge, man, like three times bigger than me.”

When asked it he’d like to tackle Henry, Fournette, who doesn’t shy away from contact when he’s running the ball, cracked a smile and said, “Man, if I played defense, I wouldn’t want to tackle him. That’s your job to tackle him, so you have to make a business decision every time you go against him.”


Fournette could only laugh when a reporter asked him this week if he could imitate Miles when he addresses his team about recent hard-fought games between the Tigers and Tide.

“I wish I could speak like him, but I can’t. He uses words I’ve never heard,” a smiling Fournette said. “He shows us the videos and talks about the passion between these two teams, how every time we fight each other it’s like a Clash of the Titans.”

Marcus Rodrigue and Sheldon Mickles