After a blistering 2015 season, Leonard Fournette’s 2016 campaign didn’t hit quite the same highs thanks to multiple injuries among other factors. With his draft stock relatively unaffected by his lackluster and unlucky season, Fournette has announced he won’t play in the Citrus Bowl against Louisville, saying it is “best for my future.”
“Me and Coach [Ed Orgeron] came to the decision,” Fournette said. “We really thought it was best for me.” Initially, Fournette thanked Orgeron for “his decision in not letting me play” in order to help his ankle heal. Fournette initially suffered a high ankle sprain in an August scrimmage, then re-injured the ankle multiple times during the regular season, causing him to miss four of LSU’s 11 games this season.
After rushing for nearly 2,000 yards last season, he only managed 843 in his seven contests this year, most of those yards coming with the running back still hampered by his ankle injury.
“I’m not a quitter at all,” said Fournette, who earned second-team All-SEC honors despite missing half the season. “I tried to play through the injury as best as I could. So it was hard knowing that the hard work that I put in didn’t build up to the season.”
Fournette said the ankle is close to 90 percent healthy after sitting out the games against Florida and Texas A&M.
“It’s getting better,” he added. “Over time that we had break, I was just going to rehab, going to see the doctors and stuff, so it’s getting better.”
While some may say this is a missed opportunity for Fournette to showcase himself in game action before the draft, there’s probably not much for him to gain when his draft stock is as high as it is to begin with, especially as running backs are coming back into favor among many NFL teams; many of them needing one.
But for the Tigers and their newly minted head coach, Orgeron is thankful for what Fournette provided to the LSU program.
“We are grateful for all the years Leonard gave us, all the great memories, all the great games,” Orgeron said. “One of the most dominating performances I’ve ever seen as a coach [was] against Auburn, and against Ole Miss this year. But more than that, Leonard’s on track to graduate in May.”
“Leonard was a great teammate. Every day he came to work. He was a joy to coach. Players love him. Little kids across the country emulate him, want to be like him. We know this is a tough decision for Leonard, but he has a bright future ahead of himself. The Tiger family wishes him the best. He will always be an LSU Tiger.”
The next time you’ll see Fournette in game action will be on a Sunday in September.