By CODY WORSHAM | Tiger Rag Editor
Leonard Fournette, you might have heard, won’t be playing with LSU on Dec. 31 when the Tigers take on Louisville in the Citrus Bowl.
According to his head coach, it’s because of injury, not a trend.
Asked about players skipping bowl games to protect their draft stock, Tiger skipper Ed Orgeron made it clear Fournette wouldn’t have signed with an agent and moved on from LSU if he had a clean bill of health.
“Here’s what I want to say: I think every individual case is different,” Orgeron said Thursday morning. “OK? Leonard’s case was an injury. And I know if Leonard was 100%, he would be playing with us. There’s no question.”
Fournette missed LSU’s last regular season game, plus three others this season, with an ankle injury that also limited him in the home finale against Florida. His announcement last week that his career was finished, coupled with the decisions of players like Christian McCaffrey of Stanford and Shock Linwood of Baylor to bypass their teams’ bowl games to prepare for the NFL draft, prompted a national discussion over the importance of such games and the merits of players protecting their draft status versus playing out their careers.
“I do believe myself personally that if you are 100% you gotta finish off with your team,” Orgeron said. “That’s just the way it is. But I think there are individual circumstances that are different for everybody…He wanted to be with the football team. He has spent a lot of time with us not practicing. We wanted to give Leonard the ability to do what’s best for him and his family, and he felt that was best for him and his family. So we are fine with it.”
Fournette finished the season with 843 rushing yards in seven games. He leaves LSU as the fourth-leading rusher of all-time, behind only Kevin Faulk, Dalton Hilliard, and Charles Alexander, and he holds the single-season rushing record, 1,953 yards, set last season.