Summer Top 50 - No. 1 Leonard Fournette

TSD's selection for the best player on LSU's 2015 roster is sophomore running back Leonard Fournette.

Because everyone loves to rank things, and because summer is the best time to argue and debate, TSD has spent the past few months rolling out its top 50 LSU football players for the coming season.

Many have been seasoned veterans and a select few new to the roster, but all 50 Tigers figure to make an impact on the gridiron in 2015.

So we hope you've enjoyed this list, compiled by the TSD staff of Ben Love and Hunter Paniagua (who, naturally, had disagreements of their own along the way).

Today the countdown finishes at the top spot with a prodigious talent at running back, sophomore sensation Leonard Fournette.


Fournette arrived at LSU from St. Augustine High School in New Orleans as the nation's top prospect in 2014 and is arguably the highest-regarded signee in the history of LSU football. Blessed with a truly unique combination of size, speed and strength, Fournette ran the ball for the Purple Knights, threw passes, caught passes, returned kicks and did just about everything.

He was named National Offensive Player of the Year by USA Today. Fournette is also the only player from the Pelican State to twice be named Louisiana Gatorade Player of the Year. All told on the prep level Fournette accounted for 7,619 rushing yards and an astonishing 88 touchdowns on the ground.

2014: 1,034 rushing yards, 127 receiving yards, 625 return yards, 11 total TDs

- It may have taken three or four games for Fournette (6-1, 230) to shift into second gear, learning to take what's available and not always try to hit the home run, but once the light bulb went off he was among the best backs in the SEC as a true freshman. Fournette, who broke Justin Vincent's freshman rushing record at LSU, finished sixth in the conference in rushing yards per game, five times going for 100 yards or more, and he led the SEC with 137.4 all-purpose yards per contest.

En route to making the All-SEC Freshman Team, Fournette also ended the campaign sixth on LSU's team in receiving, including a robust 18.1 yards per reception average. He topped it all off with prowess as a kick returner, averaging more than 26 yards per return and bringing one back 100 yards for a score in the bowl game versus Notre Dame.


Fournette, along with fellow 2014 signee Darrel Williams, are the constants in a backfield that's changing shape this fall. Gone are seniors Kenny Hilliard and Terrence Magee; in are true freshmen Nicholas Brossette and Derrius Guice. The opportunity is there for Fournette to not only garner a higher percentage of the carries, but also to lead a backfield stable that's quite young despite its obvious talent.

With LSU still laboring through a quarterback battle between Brandon Harris and Anthony Jennings, the ground game will be counted on as much as ever in the LSU offense. There is little doubt Fournette is up to the task of toting the rock consistently (as in more than five carries against Arkansas this time around). Where he'll have to continue to improve and step up is in pass receiving and pass blocking, helping backfill for the loss of Magee, who was excellent in both of those areas.

Then there's the whole return man thing. Les Miles hinted recently that Fournette will again be in the short number of those considered for a kickoff return role. It'll be interesting to see how thin Miles & Co. spread Fournette in a season where he's so paramount to everything the Tigers are doing offensively.


Ben Love: This is year two of three for Fournette in Baton Rouge. No one is operating under a different assumption, which means it's time to extract from Fournette what he's capable of giving on the college level. If that means kickoff returns, too, so be it. But first thing has to be first: Buga needs to be a rushing bell cow for the offense akin to what Jeremy Hill was in 2013. It's time for Frank Wilson to at least somewhat amend his policies and lean on Fournette. From there, once his physical skills take over, the sky is the limit for Fournette in 2015.

Projected Stats: 225 attempts, 1,350 yards, 15 TDs (3 receiving TDs)

Hunter Paniagua: LSU will go as far as Leonard Fournette is physically able to take them. LSU will win games it might not have had No. 7 not been in the backfield. He'll cement his place among the other LSU greats. If LSU's in contention to make the playoff, that'll vault Fournette into the Heisman discussion, but that'll probably have to wait until 2016 to come to fruition. But Fournette in 2015 will match, and probably surpass, expectations. He's done that at every step to this point. Why underestimate him now?

Projected Stats: 210 attempts, 1,300 yards, 20 TDs (200 yards rec. + 1 KOR TD)

Tiger Blitz Top Stories