Is Leonard Fournette the most “explosive” running back in college football?
Most SEC fans would answer that question with a resounding “yes,” but there are actually two running backs returning to college football in 2016 that accumulated more explosive plays during the 2015 season.
An explosive play is generally defined as a gain of 30 yards or more.
According to Athlon Sports’ Lance Dozier, who tallied up all of the plays of 30 yards or more in 2015 for all FBS running backs returning for the 2016 season, Fournette ranks at No. 3 with 21 explosive plays.
The breakdown from Fournette’s outstanding sophomore season is 10 carries of 30-plus yards, seven carries of 40-plus yards and four carries of 50-plus yards.
Finishing ahead of Fournette in the standings were Georgia Southern’s Matt Breida (28) and Florida State’s Dalvin Cook (25). New Mexico State’s Larry Rose III tied Fournette with 21 explosive plays of his own.
Fournette was the only SEC player to make Dozier’s Top 10 list, which extended all the way down to 15 explosive plays from the No. 10 spot. It is interesting to note that just three of the Top 10 returning players on the list hail from a Power 5 conference, with just Iowa State’s Mike Warren joining Cook and Fournette on the list.
The defense a running back is playing against weighs heavily into these rankings, as an Alabama defender may chase down Fournette while a UL-Monroe defender may miss on tracking down Breida on a similar play. While that could explain why the SEC has just one player on the list, it also helps highlight just how dominant Fournette was last season.
Expectations are sky-high for Fournette and the LSU Tigers in 2016, and it will be interesting to see if his talent is enough to push him to the top of this list.