Thursday, January 2, 2014
Scout's take: LSU lands No. 1 prospect
By Craig Haubert
Les Miles and LSU kept the nation’s No. 1 prospect, RB Leonard Fournette (New Orleans/St. Augustine) at home. It’s a crucial commit for the Tigers, and one that could pay dividends right away.
What will Fournette bring to Baton Rouge? Let’s break it down:
What he brings: Simply put, you don’t find many prospects this big and fast at running back. He possesses excellent measureables and has big-play ability. He runs hard behind his pads with good balance and can be tough to bring down with the ability to wear down defenders as the game goes on. While more of a downhill, power back, the five-star player also possesses nimble feet and some wiggle. Fournette can make defenders miss when he breaks into the open field as he can quickly get to top speed with the ability to outrun most defenders. While an excellent RB, he can also be effective in the passing the game, whether targeted out of the backfield or out wide. Fournette is a very talented football player who could also be a fine linebacker if he played on that side of the ball.
Leonard Fournette, the nation's top prospect, brings a blend of size, speed and athleticism to LSU.
How he fits: This is a great fit on several levels. The Tigers kept the in-state product at home, which you could argue was a must for them. He also fills a big need at the position and is an ideal fit for their offense. Fournette is best suited for an I-formation, downhill running attack and could thrive in the Tigers’ physical run game. He can -- and might have to -- carry the load to help the offense wear down defenses while continuing to provide a big-play threat. He could also become a more active target in the passing game than some of the Tigers' more recent backs.
Reminds us of: There have been the comparisons to Adrian Peterson and Darren McFadden. While those set the bar high, you can understand why Fournette, who possesses such outstanding physical tools, might be mentioned with those players. To draw a comparison within college football today might be a little more fair, but is not easy. Georgia RB Todd Gurley might be the closest. Both have an impressive combination of size, speed and power, though we feel Fournette is little faster and more well-rounded.
Prediction for performance: The No. 1 overall prospect has set lofty goals for himself. With focus and attention on the little things, he could very well achieve those goals and not only be the featured back for LSU, but also one of the premier backs in college football. Fans might not have to wait long at all for Fournette’s number to get called, as it is reasonable to think he could be a key contributor from the start. LSU has four running backs on the roster and will lose senior Alfred Blue and could potentially lose leading rusher Jeremy Hill. The other two will be entering their senior seasons. So opportunity will be there. With RB being one of the easier positions to transition into, Fournette could step in, play and be productive quickly. As the No. 1 player in the country, expectations will be high and there will likely be some growing pains, but it’s reasonable to think that, with focus and attention to the little things, Fournette can be an immediate impact-type player and have an outstanding career while at LSU.
How the class is shaping up: LSU has suffered some tough in-state losses that could have driven this class to greater heights, but overall this is still a very good class. The Tigers’ class now features the No. 1 prospect in the country, Jamal Adams among 14 ESPN 300 prospects. Ten commitments hail from Louisiana.