HOOVER, Ala. — The reporter led him down a winding road, but LSU running back Leonard Fournette didn’t shy away from or deflect questions about the decision he’ll have to make after this coming season.
Fournette, a rising junior, will be draft eligible after the 2016 season and could make the jump to the NFL. Fournette rushed for 1,953 yards and 22 touchdowns as a sophomore last season. He posted 1,034 yards and 10 rushing touchdowns as a true freshman.
Fournette could be a first-round selection following another strong season at LSU, and with the way running backs have been devalued, it doesn’t make much sense to return to school and take another year of pounding while not getting paid.
To be clear, Fournette “didn’t say this is my last year,” but the New Orleans native explained what would go into his decision if he decided to leave school early. He wants to deliver a national championship to his home state of Louisiana, but he also wants to graduate.
“My degree — whether I can get my degree in August or not. We’ll see,” Fournette said.
Fournette is on track to graduate in August 2017. He has attended school year-round in hopes of completing his degree in marketing in three years. So if he gets his degree is he definitely going to the NFL?
“Hopefully. You know, maybe. Man, I don’t know,” Fournette said. “I enjoy college. Everything is free. I don’t have to pay for anything right now so I’m just enjoying college right now.”
By free, Fournette simply means “the food” and “education.” Fournette is on a strict diet of not eating after 7 p.m., but if he does need a snack, it’s only peanuts and yogurt. Fournette prefers salad and sushi to cheeseburgers. But he isn’t ready to have to pay for his own food.
Each year there seems to be chatter surrounding high-profile rising juniors on whether or not they should sit out the season to avoid potential injuries. Fournette said he had no intention of sitting out. He currently has two $10 million insurance policies. Fournette said he’d consult with his parents because his decisions “begin and end with them.”
Most prospects who decide to leave school early withdraw during the spring semester to prepare for the NFL Combine, pro days and other pre-draft responsibilities.
Would Fournette become the rare elite prospect who attempts to finish school while also going through the grind of training for the NFL?
“I might. To me, free is good,” Fournette said. “I’m not ready for that world right now. So maybe. We’ll see.”