LSU running back Leonard Fournette has a choice ahead of him: sit out for the rest of the season and prepare for NFL Draft, or risk further injury by returning to the field for the Tigers.
The season hasn’t gone exactly the way LSU running back Leonard Fournette had planned: his coach got fired, the team has struggled to a 3-2 record, and the preseason Heisman Trophy favorite has missed two games due to a lingering injury sustained in the offseason.
With interim coach Ed Orgeron saying that Fournette will more than likely sit out this week’s matchup against Southern Miss, the question for the 21-year-old New Orleans native is this: should he play again this season and risk even more injuries before entering the NFL Draft?
The situation is precarious. Guaranteed to be an early pick in the draft, and with the injuries still nagging, Fournette could take the safe route and sit himself out for the rest of the season. He has a future to think about, with a lot of money on the line.
Fournette is a competitor, though, and wants to be on the field with his teammates. Before the season he proclaimed that winning a championship was far more important than any personal accolades. He still has a chance to leave Baton Rouge as one of LSU’s all-time greats, even if this season has gone off the rails. Sure, he will never match the numbers he put up last season, running for 1,953 yards and 22 touchdowns, but putting the team’s needs and finishing with a strong campaign would carry a lot of weight in the eyes of the Bayou Bengals faithful.
The risk of a further injury is there if he takes the latter path. He need look no further than former South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore to understand as much.
Lattimore broke on to the scene in 2010 for the Gamecocks and turned heads in his sophomore season in 2011. He then suffered a tear in his knee ligament in the middle of the 2011 season, missing the remainder of the season.
After recovering, he returned for his junior season and seemed better than ever. He was on his way to being a top pick in the NFL Draft and securing a wealthy future for himself. Then it all came crashing down on October 27 against Tennessee, as Lattimore suffered a horrific injury that dislocated his right knee and tore every ligament. He went from a first-round pick to a 4th rounder in the matter of seconds. Lattimore eventually retired from the sport without ever playing a down in the NFL.
Fournette will have to look deep inside himself to figure out what route he wants to take. Family, friends, teammates, coaches, and people with other interests will all be in his ear pulling him in every possible direction.
The NFL Draft awaits him in April, but the course Fournette takes to get there will soon be decided.
For Tiger fans, seeing him back in a LSU jersey would be amazing. For his family, they will want only what’s best for Fournette, and ultimately what makes him happy.
For all of us, if this is the end of his college career, it has been a joy watching him succeed at the highest level against great competition. We will all be tuning in on Sundays.