By CODY WORSHAM | Tiger Rag Editor
Leonard Fournette has played his last game in purple and gold.
The junior tailback announced at a press conference on Friday he would not play in the Citrus Bowl, ending his prolific three-year career at LSU.
“This is what’s best for my future,” Fournette said. “It was a tremendous feeling to come out of that tunnel each and every game.”
A likely first round pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, Fournette said he plans to rest and rehab the ankle injury that has limited him to seven games this season. He estimated he’s at about 85-90 percent health, a bit higher than where he played at much of the year. In his last season, Fournette rushed for 843 yards on 129 carries, both career lows, but he did manage to set the school record for rushing yards in a single game, racking up 284 against Ole Miss in October — a record Derrius Guice would break by a single yard weeks later vs. Texas A&M.
“I didn’t really get an opportunity to play to my full potential (this year),” Fournette said.
In 32 career games, Fournette rushed for 3,830 yards — fourth-most in school history — and 40 touchdowns on 616 carries. He will leave LSU as the all-time leader in yards per carry (6.2) and the single-season record holder for rushing touchdowns (22 in 2015) and yards (1,953 in 2015).
“Leonard, growing up, wanted to be an LSU Tiger, bled purple and gold,” LSU head coach Ed Orgeron said. “He was a joy to coach. We know this is a tough decision for Leonard, but he has a bright future ahead of himself. He will always be an LSU Tiger, and he will always be one of the greatest players in LSU football history.”
Fournette plans to practice with the team and travel to the Citrus Bowl, but he won’t be available to play. He also praised Coach O for his leadership during the season and expressed gratitude he was kept as head coach full-time.
“I believe LSU football is in great hands,” Fournette said.
Fournette told the team the news before meeting with the press. He described an emotional meeting with his teammates.
“It was sad,” he said. “You never know the impact you have on people, until that day comes. When I told them that, a lot of them got emotional.”