It is not every day that a talent comes around and gets compared to the retired all-time football great, Herschel Walker. But former Louisiana State University player Leonard Fournette was held in such regards before he was drafted by the Jacksonville Jaguars. The running back, who was also one of the most highly recruited Louisiana high school players ever, has been tipped to be a future Hall of Famer, which is a testament to his talent although he has a long way to go before achieving such heights.
Early Life and Career Beginnings
On the 18th of January, 1995 in New Orleans, Louisiana, Lory and Leonard Fournette Jr. welcomed their first of four children, Leonard Joseph Fournette III. The Fournette family raised their children in the violence and gang riddled 7th Ward section of New Orleans but were able to shield their kids from that life and make them concentrate on what mattered the most, which was getting a good education and/or focusing on sports in order to have a career in it.
Leonard Fournette attended St. Augustine High School where he was an outstanding athlete as a part of both the track & field and football teams. Due to his talent, Fournette secured a starting position in his freshman year and was able to record over 2,500 yards and 30 touchdowns in that season. Following that outstanding showing, Fournette earned a scholarship offer from Louisiana State (LSU), making him the first-ever freshman to get a scholarship from that school in his freshman year.
Fournette kept up his performances in his sophomore and junior years, recording 1,900 rushing yards and 27 touchdowns and 2,135 rushing yards and 31 touchdowns, respectively, with the latter earning him LFCA Class 4A First-Team All-State honors. In his senior high school year, Fournette registered 1,792 rushing yards and 16 touchdowns and added 45 receptions for 745 yards and six scores to earn a nod for the 2013 Louisiana Mr. Football. He was also selected to the Parade and USA Today All-American teams and also USA Today’s Offensive Player of the Year.
By the time Leonard Fournette was graduating from high school, he reportedly had close to 100 scholarship offers from a number of college programs across the country. He, however, chose to attend the first school that showed faith in him, as a high school freshman, LSU.
Fournette spent three years playing college football at Louisiana where he showed everybody that he was the real deal as he stacked his stat sheet. In his freshman college year, he started 6 of the 13 games he played, recording 1,034 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns. In his sophomore season, he recorded 1,953 rushing yards and 22 touchdowns in 11 games. His rushing yards for that season proved to be the highest rushing yards per game average (162.8) and he was awarded the NCAA rushing title. He also earned consensus All-America honors but however only managed a sixth-place finish in the Heisman Trophy voting list.
In what turned out to be his last college football season, Fournette only played in 7 games where he recorded 843 rushing yards and 8 touchdowns before announcing his intention to enter the 2017 NFL Draft.
Details of Leonard Fournette’s Draft Profile
Leonard Fournette was projected to be a top ten pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. Different scouting and college football publications considered him to be either the best or second best running back prospect in the draft after he had amassed a total of 3,830 rushing yards and 40 rushing touchdowns, the fourth and third most in both respective categories by a player in Louisiana State University history.
On draft day, Fournette was the first running back selected with the fourth overall pick by the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Injury and Career Stats
During the preseason, just before the beginning of his rookie year, Leonard Fournette suffered his first injury although he was able to return for the season opener. Six weeks later, he suffered a minor ankle injury in a game against the Los Angeles Rams where he had already recorded 21 receptions for 130 yards which included a 75-yard touchdown. He went on to miss one game before returning back to full fitness.
By the end of the 2017 season, Fournette had recorded 1,040 rushing yards and 9 touchdowns, as well as 302 receiving yards and 1 touchdown to help his team clinch the AFC South title. He and his team went on to beat the Buffalo Bills in the Wild Card Round and the Pittsburgh Steelers in the Divisional Round before falling to the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship Game.
Salary and Career Earnings
Leonard Fournette put pen to paper on a four-year, $27 million contract which came along with an $18 million signing bonus with the Jaguars after he was drafted in 2017. This means that the running back has an average annual salary of about $6.7 million.