There’s a new mythic character in the world of college sports, LSU running back Leonard Fournette. He was very good as a freshman and, as you can see above, got in some trouble with the modesty police for striking the Heisman pose after his first TD as a Tiger. He knew what he was doing: he’s exploded as a sophomore and is one of the favorites for the Heisman. He’s a big, strong, fast back who’s being compared to Herschel Walker, Bo Jackson, Earl Campbell and, by me, to Jim Brown before he started doing blaxploitation films:
I know what you’re thinking: Jim Brown was before even my time but I’ve seen the film clips and that’s who Leonard reminds me of. That’s right, one of the greatest to have ever played.
Back to Leonard. He was a legend even before attending LSU and St. Augustine High School in New Orleans:
In New Orleans, the legends of Leonard Fournette are as abundant as the city’s majestic oaks, brown swamps and fine eats.
The tales seem tall, the stories unthinkable.
Have you heard the one about Fournette breaking the leg of a fellow high school player during a collision on a toss sweep?
How about the one in which a 13-year-old Fournette nearly out-ran a college athlete?
Can you believe that Fournette scored eight touchdowns in one little league game? And that parents of other children eventually signed a petition to have him banned.
Believe what you want.
Maybe these are exaggerations. Maybe they are embellishments. Maybe they didn’t happen at all.
One thing is certain: The legend of Leonard Fournette began right here — on a dusty park in New Orleans East, surrounded by low-income housing, cracking streets and a rusty chain-link fence.
Locals call it Goretti Playground. It’s the birthplace of the current frontrunner for, arguably, the biggest individual prize in sports: the Heisman Trophy.
Some of the stories may be apocryphal or embellished but they sound like the tales spun by kids in Harlem about Earl The Pearl Monroe and that’s not a bad thing. I’m inclined to believe them because Leonard looks like he’s playing against 10 year olds right now. He does ridiculous things like saving his QB from a big loss by hollering for a lateral, something that almost never works:
Because of Leonard’s prowess there was a deeply stupid debate about his future last week. Some sportswriters and internet know-it-alls opined that he should sit out the 2016 season to avoid injury before turning pro after his junior year. I hate this on two levels. First, I despise unsolicited advice in any form. It’s none of y’all’s business, it’s up to him. But it would make Leonard look like a selfish schmuck who only cares about himself. Way to ruin the legend. Second, as a LSU Tiger fan I want the pleasure of watching him rip up college football and, maybe even lead the Tigers to another National Championship.
It’s up to Leonard but here’s something a lot of out-of-state experts don’t understand about him. Leonard is a proud graduate of St. Augustine High School, which is effectively a leadership academy for young African-American men. I somehow doubt that Leonard wants to disappoint the priests and alumni by letting down his teammates to save his body for the professional ranks.
LSU’s schedule is about to get tougher so Leonard’s season may get a bit bumpier but I’ve rarely seen an athlete on such a roll. He’s fun to watch and, more importantly, having a great time running over, through, and past defenders.
Here are some highlights of his astonishing performance against Syracuse on the road:
Geaux Tigers. Geaux Leonard.