Billy Cannon sees Fournette winning Heisman

LSU football royalty recognizes a worthy counterpart on campus in Baton Rouge today.

Billy Cannon, LSU's only Heisman Trophy winner back in 1959, says "spectacular" Leonard Fournette will join him in taking that honor back to Baton Rouge.

A season ago as a true freshman Fournette set a rookie record for the program by rushing for 1,034 yards. The St. Augustine product, regarded by some as the highest profile signee in Tiger history, scored 11 total touchdowns in 2014, including a 100-yard kickoff return for six in LSU's bowl game versus Notre Dame.

It's only an appetizer for what's to come, according to Cannon, who expressed optimism that Les Miles and the LSU staff will feed the beast early and often.

"I hope our future Heisman Trophy winner has a great night," Cannon told TSD's Ben Love of LSU's opener against McNeese State Saturday during an interview on "Bumper to Bumper Sports" on 103.7 FM (KLWB) in Lafayette.

"Leonard has just some spectacular talents, and I hope we showcase them extremely well this time. Plus I hope we win all the games."

Cannon, circa 1959, and modern-day Fournette have fairly remarkable similarities in terms of size and abilities. One could even, in a certain light, view Fournette as the evolution of what Cannon was as a player in his heyday.

Fournette, a powerful back with speed, is listed at 6-foot-1, 230 pounds. Cannon's playing weight in TigerTown is given by LSU's official website as 6-foot-1 and 210 pounds. The latter provided sprinter's speed with power that was considered rare at the time for a back his size.

That enabled Cannon, who is now in charge of dentistry at the Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola, to amass 1,867 yards and 19 touchdowns on the ground from 1957-59.

The result was an award that has changed Cannon's life, even if he knew little about how much of an honor it was at the time.

"To win the Heisman Trophy was just a dream come true. I knew there was a Heisman Trophy, but I had no idea of how involved and how prestigious it was," explained Cannon. "All I wanted to do was win the game and be a part of the team that won the game, and I think that was the feeling of most of the kids I played with."

But the stiff-arming trophy has left behind a legacy that Cannon is proud of and proud to share, namely at a Baton Rouge-area restaurant that displays his bronze baby front and center.

"My trophy has been at T.J. Ribs since they opened the first time," he recalled. "It's so funny, my teammates will bring guests from out of town and they'll go eat at T.J. Ribs so they can show off our Heisman Trophy. They and I emphasize 'our' Heisman Trophy."

Time will tell if Cannon's words on Fournette are prophetic, but there is a chance LSU's prolific back forces the 78-year-old to expand the scope of "our" when he talks about a certain 45-pound famous trophy.

Click on the link below to listen to Ben Love's full audio interview with Billy Cannon in which the two touch on Cannon's relationship with legendary LSU coach Paul Dietzel, how he almost talked his way out of a scholarship and much more.

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