NEW ORLEANS, Dec. 5 (UPI) — Things didn’t “go as planned” for running back Leonard Fournette at LSU.
Now Fournette should plan for a more posh lifestyle, after announcing Monday to declare for the 2017 NFL Draft. The junior was a preseason Heisman candidate, but has been slowed by a left ankle sprain. He is still projected to be a first-round selection.
The New Orleans native said he will play against Louisville in the Citrus Bowl. He led the nation last season with 162.75 rushing yards per game.
“I sit and reflect, as I pen this letter, on my journey as a Tiger,” Fournette wrote in a letter at LSUSports.net. “I think about how you all supported me – even before I made the official announcement that I would attend LSU – and I am forever grateful for your continued support throughout both my high school and college careers. You all have watched me grow from a teenager to a young man and were even there for the birth of my daughter Lyric.”
The 21-year-old Fournette has 4,356 yards from scrimmage and 41 touchdowns in 23 career games for the Tigers. He averaged 6.5 yards per carry this season for 843 yards and eight scores in seven games.
“When I decided to attend LSU and major in human resources, I also had hopes of winning a National Championship,” Fournette wrote. “Things did not go as I planned, but when I consider the passion and commitment of the LSU fans, coaches and my teammates, I am still very grateful for my experience here.”
“This has been a very trying season, but I have continued to fight to play to the best of my ability,” Fournette wrote. “Each day I study and work and rehab with my coaches, trainers and teammates so that I can return to the field for the bowl game, and help our team bring another victory home.”
“I am thankful that you all have been there through the good, bad, ups and downs,” Fournette wrote. “I am thankful for my coaches who have helped me grow into my full potential. I am thankful for my teammates who have been on the field with me through victories and defeats. I am thankful for Coach O stepping in this season, and I wish him well as he officially takes over as Head Coach of the LSU Football team. I am thankful, so it is bittersweet that I must also say goodbye.”
“I will be declaring for the 2017 NFL Draft after our bowl game,” Fournette wrote. “I make this announcement now so that there will not be speculation and distractions while we prepare. I want everyone to know that I will forever treasure my experience as a Tiger. I will take with me the many valuable lessons that I have learned here, and the love that you have shown me throughout the years. I will forever be an LSU Tiger. Thank you.”
The 2017 NFL Draft is set for April 27 to April 29 in Philadelphia. The No. 19 Tigers face the No. 15 Cardinals at 11 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 31 in the Citrus Bowl at Camping World Stadium in Orlando.