An expert in breaking tackles, Leonard Fournette never imagined the possibility of playing in the NFL. Now with the draft only weeks away, the 2015 Consensus All-American is staying focused as he awaits his fate.
After an outstanding career at St. Augustine High School in New Orleans, the 2013 USA Today National High School Offensive Player of the Year realized he had an opportunity.
"My 9th grade, 10th grade in high school (St. Augustine), my coach sat me down and told me I had great ability, a great talent to play this game," said running back Leonard Fournette at last month's NFL Combine in Indianapolis. "From there on in I took it serious."
The top recruit decided to stay close to home and committed to in-state to LSU. Within his first season, Fournette made his mark as a freshman leading the SEC in all-purpose yards (137.4 per game). Fournette followed that as a sophomore by setting school single-season records with 1,953 rushing yards and 22 rushing touchdowns while leading the country with 162.8 rushing yards per game.
Unfortunately for Fournette, his junior season did not go as expected after a preseason ankle injury limited his playing ability to perform in only seven games. Additionally as a pre-draft precaution to his lingering injury, Fournette chose to sit out the team's bowl game.
"It was a hard decision for me to sit out, and my coach asking me and telling me to make the right decision for your future," Fournette said. "I cried like a girl. It was one of the hardest decisions I had to make besides committing to a school. They (the coaches) knew my risks. It was a tough decision we had to make as a whole. I just dealt with it, didn't go back and forth with them. At the end of the day, they're my coaches. I'm still a student listening to them. They wanted to protect my future."
None the less, he ended the season with 843 yards and eight touchdowns while earning second-team All-SEC honors. As for his ankle, Fournette says "It's 100 percent now. It just needed time to heal."
Check out these photos of Louisiana State University running back, Leonard Fournette.
After three seasons with the Tigers, Fournette declared for the 2017 NFL Draft, forgoing his final year of eligibility. Due to his speed and power, Fournette is projected to be a top pick for his position.
Fournette is quick on his feet and describes himself as a "north and south runner."
"I can make defenders miss, can run over them, can run past them. Like any other running back we have here now," he said. "I can do both (run through or around). Depends on in the moment how I'm feeling, what I'm thinking, what's going through my mind."
Fournette's strength has also given him the exceptional and intriguing talent of breaking tackles. "It's a God (given) ability. It's something I work on in practice. My motto is 'Never let one man take you down.' That's my whole purpose," he said.
Fournette has undoubtedly a great career ahead of him in the NFL and tries to remain grounded on his journey.
"It came fast. Not for a second in my mind I thought I'd be in the NFL coming up from New Orleans, out of the hood, 7th Ward, it's a dream, a blessing," Fournette said. "I've always been humble, God fearing, kept God first. Staying who I am, my roots, my foundation. Just praying. As a freshman in college, 19-20 years old, you think you have the world by the hand and you don't. Stay focused, that's all."