You see it all the time: people comparing draft prospects to current and former greats. Heck, Dabo Swinney compared Deshaun Watson to Michael Jordan – and they don’t even play the same sport.
Point being, it happens.
So perhaps it’s not surprising that people are comparing Leonard Fournette to Bo Jackson. But Fournette, with his freakish athleticism, doesn’t want to be the next great fill-in-the-blank; he wants to be the first great Leonard Fournette.
“I don’t buy into (the comparisons),” Fournette said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “He’s somewhere where I want to be. To me, I think really nobody should ever be mentioned (with someone like that). I don’t worry about it. People are going to think whatever they want. I’d rather surpass (great players) than be (at) the same (level). I want to be better than them.”
The scary thing is, he might be able to do just that.
Fournette, a 6-0, 240-pound wrecking ball, rushed 616 times for 3,830 yards (6.2 yards per rush) and scored 42 touchdowns in his LSU career. An All-American in 2015 – when he set single-season school records for rushing yards (1,953) and rushing touchdowns (22) – Fournette was limited to seven games in 2016 and sat out of LSU’s bowl game, a 29-9 win over Louisville.
“It was a decision my coach made for me,” Fournette said, referring to Ed Orgeron. “I think it was one of the best decisions somebody ever made for me just to make sure my ankle is (okay) and not to injure myself anymore. I played the entire season with a hurt ankle, so I think it was (the right decision).”
Fournette is one of the most talented prospects, regardless of position, in this year’s draft. In fact, he could be the most talented prospect in this year’s draft. Running backs, however, have become devalued in the NFL – or so the story goes. Todd Gurley and Ezekiel Elliott had monster rookie seasons in 2015 and 2016, respectively, more than justifying their top-10 draft status.
Could Fournette go in the top 10? Absolutely.
“Both of those guys did a great job for us running backs coming out right now,” Fournette said of Gurley and Elliott. “Those guys went in there, they ripped it up, they did an excellent job by showing GMs, owners, coaches that don’t (believe in) drafting a running back first round that great things can happen.”
Fournette doesn’t have the pass-catching or route-running skills of, say, Christian McCaffrey, but he doesn’t necessarily need them. Fournette has the power to rush between the tackles and the speed to get to the edge, which is rare, especially given his size.
“I’m good at a lot of things,” Fournette said. “It’s all about perfecting your craft – catching the ball, blocking, being more patient, learning how to read blocks (and) learning how to read defenses.”
Wherever he lands, Fournette hopes to have a long, productive career – in part because he wants to support his two children. Fournette has a 2-year-old daughter, Lyric, and a son, who was born in March.
Lyric was born when Fournette was a 19-year-old freshman.
“She just changed me for life,” Fournette said. “My thinking, my decision making, I never want any of my decisions to affect my life or be a bad example for her. So I show her how to be loved, what it is to have a father who’s dedicated to her. My son was born (in) March. He’s a month now. So the same thing goes for him. A lot of people are asking is he going to play football, but my father never forced me to play sports, so whatever he wants to pursue, that’s him. I’m going to back him up 100 percent no matter what he does.”