LSU running back Leonard Fournette set Twitter on fire today, running over and through Auburn on his way to a record-setting day. People have been comparing him to everyone from Adrian Peterson to Herschel Walker. Who do I see?
Well, here a look back to a column I wrote on Fournette a few weeks after moving to New Orleans from Mississippi two years ago.
Nine carries in, I’m sold on Fournette
Publication Date: September 12, 2013
I have only seen Leonard Fournette run the ball nine times.
Six of those were in a jamboree two weeks ago. The other three times were Friday night in the season opener.
Those nine carriers were all I needed to see to say the highly-touted St. Augustine senior is the best high school running back I have ever watched play in person.
Nine carries. 226 yards. Five touchdowns. (That’s a whopping 25… yes 25… yards per carry and a touchdown every other carry.)
And he’s probably broken at least one tackle on every carry, including the 65-yarder last week against rival McDonogh 35 where it seems he shed off eight or nine helpless tacklers before showing off his blazing speed.
McDonogh35 assistant coaches in the press box screamed about their team’s poor tackling on the play.
No coaches, that wasn’t it.
It had a lot more to do with the guy sporting the No. 5 jersey, who I am already ranking way ahead of guys I watched in high school like Jerious Norwood (ex-Atlanta Falcons), Deuce McAllister (Saints), Anthony Dixon (49ers) and T.J. Yeldon (University of Alabama).
I have read comparisons of Fournette to the likes of Adrian Peterson and Eric Dickerson.
The closest comparison I have so far is Marcus Dupree, the legendary running back from Mississippi who was the subject of the ESPN documentary “The Greatest That Never Was.”
That’s the only high school back who comes to mind with the combination of size and speed and ability to just shed off defenders as if they were just swatting away flies.
I wasn’t the only one impressed.
So was McDonogh 35 coach Wayne Reese, who won’t have to face the 6-foot-1, 225 pound Fournette again.
“Leonard is big for a back, just a Jim Brown type running back,” Reese said. “He measures up with the great high school running backs. He is right there with them. He has everything. He has the agility. He has the speed. He’s smart and then he is not a selfish kid and that is going to make him go a long, long way.”
Fournette spoke about that unselfishness last week after Friday’s victory, when he sat out the second half with his team in control. He watched as his team showed its other dimension, a dangerous passing attack.
“It was a tremendous job by our receivers,” said Fournette. “I like to put the spotlight on them. It’s a team effort. I wasn’t the only person in the summertime putting in the hard work.”
Chances are, Fournette won’t get to watch from the sidelines Friday night at Tad Gormley Stadium.
St. Aug will likely need him for the full four quarters to beat top-ranked Karr in a highly-anticipated matchup of the No. 1 and 2 ranked teams in The New Orleans Advocate’s large school rankings.
Fournette should be motivated. The Cougars held him in check in November, limiting him to 100 yards on 25 carries in a 28-12 Class 4A playoff victory on their way to winning the state championship.
The good news for Karr fans. This one will be much closer. I’m picking Karr 28-27 in overtime.
Even better news?
Fournette will get more than nine carries.