Leonard Fournette took his first significant step into professional sports, signing with an agency.
Fournette, the former LSU running back who announced last week that he will not play in the Tigers' bowl game, signed with Roc Nation Sports, a sub-division of Roc Nation, the New York-based agency home to critically acclaimed recording artists like Rihanna, Shakira and J. Cole.
He gave up his amateurism by inking with the agency Monday. He's no longer part of the LSU football program and can't travel with the team to the Citrus Bowl on Dec. 31.
Shawn “JAY Z” Carter's Roc Nation Sports launched in spring 2013. Roc Nation Sports’ roster includes athletes such as Robinson Cano, Skylar Diggins, Kevin Durant, Geno Smith, Victor Cruz and CC Sabathia. Fournette announced the signing in a tweet Monday.
Fournette ended his college career last week, announcing his intentions to skip the Tigers' bowl game against Louisville because of a lingering left ankle injury that forced him to miss four games this season. Fournette said last week that he's currently "85-90" percent healthy and will continue to rehabilitate the injury. He plans to participate in LSU's pro day.
The New Orleans native is expected to be a top 10 pick in the 2017 NFL draft. He said last week that he planned to travel with LSU to the bowl game, but that he and coach Ed Orgeron, together, made the decision for him not to play, he said.
Fournette's parents took out two $10 million insurance policies in the spring, covering their son's draft value in case he was seriously injured.
On the same day that Fournette signed with an agent, Stanford running back and return man Christian McCaffrey announced that he would bypass the Cardinal's game against North Carolina in the Sun Bowl on Dec. 30 "so I can begin my draft prep immediately," he wrote in a tweet.
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McCaffrey is ranked as the third-best running back in the 2017 draft, according to walterfootball.com. Fournette is ranked as the top tailback. Their decisions could spark similar movements from highly ranked draft-eligible juniors and seniors, said Bucky Brooks, an NFL draft analyst for NFL.com.
"I tried to tell folks that more prospects are going to make 'business' decisions and skip bowl games," Brooks posted on his Twitter account Monday. "It only makes sense to reduce risks."
The decisions, thought by some as selfish in nature, won't have an impact on draft value, Brooks tweeted. However, fans are quick to criticize a player who bypasses what would be their final college game.
McCaffrey's decision triggered a national debate Monday on the subject. National pundits lumped on Fournette, too, especially after he signed with an agent two weeks before the Tigers' bowl game.
"Players were scared of the push back (in the past). Now, they know the 'hot take' fades away with a great performance at Combine/Pro Day," Brooks tweeted.
Former LSU shortstop Alex Bregman, the No. 2 pick in the 2015 MLB draft who's now with the Houston Astros, defended Fournette on social media. Fournette is a father to a 2-year-old daughter, Lyric.
"He's making a decision for his family and for his baby," Bregman tweeted. "He's made LSU millions and he's made 0."