Leonard FournetteLSU, Football, 2015-16 Corbett Award
Leonard Fournette is quickly becoming one of the most-accomplished athletes in New Orleans history. And the soon-to-be junior star for the LSU Football team hasn’t even reached his 22nd birthday.
The St. Augustine High School product, who is being recognized with his second James J. Corbett Award as the top amateur athlete in the state of Louisiana, was the first-ever high school athlete to win the Corbett in 2014. After being touted as the top high school football player in the nation, he took the collegiate ranks by storm. An outstanding freshman season was followed by a record-breaking sophomore campaign in which he led the nation in rushing yards – and quite possibly led the nation in highlight-reel plays.
However, for Fournette, personal recognition is not his end game. “My personal goal is to win a national championship, nothing else.”
Leading the LSU Tigers to a national championship in 2016 would likely make Fournette a lock to become the first male athlete to win more than two of the prestigious Corbett Awards.
Even without a national title, if Fournette approaches his 2015 accomplishments, he will remain the favorite for next year’s Corbett. The sophomore sensation rushed for 212 yards and scored five touchdowns in LSU’s bowl victory over Texas Tech to close his season with a school-record 1,953 rushing yards. His final rushing total allowed him to become the first LSU player in history to lead the nation in rushing and the first SEC player to accomplish the feat since 1949. He was named first-team All-SEC and first-team All-America after setting another LSU record with 22 touchdowns while rushing for 200 yards four times and 100 yards 10 times. In addition to being tabbed as a Doak Walker Award finalist, he was named the Louisiana Offensive Player of the Year by the Louisiana Sports Writers Association.
Despite his on-field success, Fournette has developed into an inspiring off-the-field talent as well. Following disastrous flooding in South Carolina, Fournette auctioned his game-worn jersey from the Gamecock contest to raise money for flood victims – the final bid for the jersey was over $100,000.
He is also smart to always remember his offensive line. “He thanks us for all of his accomplishments,” junior left tackle Jerald Hawkins said in December. “Every time he sees us, he just tells us he appreciates everything we’ve done for him.”
“He’s a great teammate, unselfish,” LSU head coach Les Miles said. “He wants for the team. He has great leadership. I think he’s going to have a great year. He’s poised to be better than he was last year.”
But the bottom line with Fournette is his dazzling football ability, which can best be described by those who try to contain him (as compiled by Nola.com).
“Fournette is a force, man, a dominant force,” said Florida linebacker Jarrard Davis. “I don’t know who to compare him to. He’s just something new. He’s a very, very dominant running back and I love the way he plays the game.
“It’s kind of crazy. You’d never think a guy that big and that fast…you never realize how fast he is until you look up and he’s on the Jumbotron after he just scored a 50-yard touchdown” said Mississippi State defensive lineman A.J. Jefferson.
“Obviously, he’s a huge, strong, fast, freak of an athlete type kid,” said Missouri linebacker Michael Scherer. “Once-in-a-decade-type of player. He runs the ball extremely hard. I’ll never forget sitting in my living room with my brothers when that one kid from Auburn tried to jump on top of him and tackle him, and he just kind of shook him off like he was nothing. Stuff like that sticks in your head.”
Fournette has clearly lived up to his promise and its nearly a sure thing that he will become the 17th Corbett Award winner to continue his career in the NFL.