Leonard Fournette St. Augustine High School, Football, 2013-14 Corbett Award
The annual Corbett Awards presented by the Allstate Sugar Bowl to the top male and female amateur athletes in the state have recognized 59 amateur stars, many of whom would go on to even greater success – including NBA World Championships and Olympic Gold Medals. But among those 59 Corbett Award winners, one demographic has never been deemed worthy of the prestigious honor – there has never been a high school honoree. Until this year.
To be the first high-schooler recognized as the top amateur athlete in the state would obviously take tremendous achievements and Leonard Fournette’s resume meets that requirement.
A four-year starting running back at St. Augustine, Fournette was regarded as the No. 1 high school player in the nation for the 2013 season. He was named the USA Today National Offensive Player of the Year as well as being selected as a member of the All-USA First Team and the prestigious Parade All-America First Team. The first player in Louisiana history to twice be named the state’s Gatorade Player of the Year, he finished his high school career with 7,619 rushing yards and 88 rushing touchdowns, including 1,792 yards and 16 touchdowns as a senior. Fournette, who led his team to a 9-2 record and an appearance in the Division I semifinal game as a senior, was also listed as the No. 1 overall prospect in the nation by ESPN.com and Scout.com and was named the 2013 Mr. Football by the Louisiana Sports Writers Association.
The jewel of another strong LSU recruiting class, Fournette’s future coach, Les Miles, dropped the name Michael Jordan when asked about Fournette. Skeptical reporters then visited with current Tiger running back Terrence Magee for verification of the youngster’s skills.
“Who wouldn’t want to play in a backfield with a guy like that? He has been compared to Adrian Peterson,” Magee said. “To be honest, I think Peterson is the only guy that’s playing the running back position right now that you can compare [Fournette] to.”
Before he has even played an official minute of practice at the collegiate level, former LSU great Kevin Faulk tabbed Fournette as a likely challenger to his school rushing record. The Gainesville Sun ranked him as the No. 21 player in the SEC – player, not incoming freshman. The media website AL.com placed Fournette as No. 15 on the list of the Top 21 figures that will affect Alabama’s season – not LSU’s season, but Alabama’s. The Times-Picayune compared Fournette to Marshall Faulk, the Pro Football Hall of Fame running back who also hails from New Orleans. SportsonEarth.com ranked him No. 97 on its list of the top 100 college football players, adding in a mention of Herschel Walker; though the website did say it’s unfair to compare anybody to Walker.
Despite success, the accolades and the hype, Fournette has kept himself humble and grounded. “Nothing is given to you, nothing comes easy,” Fournette told the Times-Picayune. “You have to earn everything. I’m going up there as a freshman and working my way up.”
“It’s a team sport. It not about one person,” Fournette told the Times-Picayune in a February story. “What I really think, LSU does run the ball a lot. Some people would like to have a lot of touches (with the ball). But it’s not about all that at the end of the day. It’s about a championship.”
Story submitted by John Sudsbury of the Allstate Sugar Bowl.