BEAVERTON, Ore.—The best of the best high school football players in the nation made their way to the Nike Headquarters to participate in The Opening earlier this week, including the No. 1 tailback in the class of 2014 in New Orleans (La.) St. Augustine five-star running back Leonard Fournette.
As hot as the competition was on the field, temperatures in the mid to upper 90’s proved challenging, and although the heat can be downright unpleasant back home in the south, Fournette found himself adjusting to the west coast sun beaming down.
“The competition, everything was fun to me,” Fournette told GoBlueWolverine. “Going against the linebackers, the sun was killing me today. Everyone was getting loose first but we got warmed up. Everything got heated up.”
Measuring in at The Opening at 6-foot-1, 226-pounds, the non-padded football drills and 7-on-7 action isn’t exactly meant to cater to the abilities of a bigger, more physical back like Fournette. But Fournette isn’t a typical bruiser in the sense that there’s more to his skillset than power, adding terrific feet and soft hands, making his time in Oregon a tremendous showcase of his versatility.
“It was fun,” Fournette said. “We did a lot of off set passing skills and showed my hands and good footwork.
“I can catch, block, and I can run. I’m a north, south runner and I might give you a little move now and then but other than that I’m a downhill runner.”
Holding offers from and making camp stops this summer at Alabama, Florida, LSU, Mississippi State and USC, Fournette also has an offer from the Michigan Wolverines with plans to make a trip to Ann Arbor in the near future.
One of the most highly recruited players in the country prior to his verbal commitment to the Wolverines in May, five-star cornerback Jabrill Peppers placed a call to Fournette to vouch for the Maize & Blue in hopes that he’ll trade in some southern jazz for the Michigan marching band’s rendition of ‘The Victors.’
“I talked to Jabrill one time and he was like, ‘just give it a try,’” Fournette said. “So I said, alright, I’ll give it a try. So, I’m going to go up there and take a visit.”
Still in the process of scheduling his five official visits for the fall, Fournette doesn’t plan on waiting that long before taking in the sights and sounds of Ann Arbor, leaving open the possibility of taking an unofficial visit during the barbecue at the big house at the end of July.
“I don’t know when (the visits will be),” he said. “I haven’t gotten a chance to sit down really and put the dates together.
“At first I’m going to do an unofficial (to Michigan) and we’ll see if we’ll do an official or not.”
In the same mold as Michigan freshman tailback Derrick Green, the No. 1 running back from the class of 2013, Fournette says the Wolverines transition to the pro style offense is very appealing to him.
Mostly allowing his father to stay in contact with coaches during his recruiting process, Fournette plans to amp up the communication with the Wolverines, specifically with running backs coach Fred Jackson, who made several trips by his school throughout the spring.
“Our relationship is kind of off right now because we don’t talk,” Fournette said. “But I’m going to make sure I get it better than what it is and start getting to know him personally.”
Fournette ran for 2,136 yards on 196 carries, scoring 31 touchdowns in 2012, his junior season at St. Augustine.
To watch the full, exclusive, video interview with Fournette and GoBlueWolverine, press play below.