7 Reasons Leonard Fournette Will Finish as No. 1 Recruit in Class of 2014
Ranked as the No. 1 player by Scout.com, ESPNU, and the composite rankings by 247Sports, Leonard Fournette is one of the best prospects in recent memory. He is a rare running back recruit who is ready to play college football and has NFL potential.
Fournette, who is from Louisiana, is the best player in the country. But will he finish the 2014 cycle on top? That remains to be seen, as many recruits will be coming after Fournette's spot. Prospects such as Da'Shawn Hand, Jabrill Peppers, Quin Blanding, Andrew Brown, Speedy Noil and Cameron Robinson all will make arguments why they should be the No. 1 recruit.
However, Fournette has several reasons why he should not worry about his peers.
He's the Best Player Already
It is not often that the player who opens up as the No. 1 recruit slides down the board in college football recruiting. It has happened before, such as in 2009 when Matt Barkley fell a few spots due to a questionable senior season.
However, more times than not, the player who starts the recruiting cycle as the nation's top recruit usually finishes at the same spot. Fournette is ranked No. 1 by three out of the four major recruiting publications (Scout.com, ESPNU, 247Sports composite rankings), so based on history he will finish with the recruiting crown.
He Has Hype and a Lot of It
The good people of "Full Ride" have dubbed Fournette as the next Adrian Peterson, which is a prime example of his hype.
The more hype a recruit has, the higher his ranking will be. With Fournette already possessing the No. 1 ranking, coupled with the great hype he has around him, it will be awfully tough to remove him from from the top slot in February.
Not all running back prospects have drawn comparisons to Peterson, as the 2012 NFL MVP was a dominant high school player in Texas.
However, Fournette is commonly seen as a running back who is on the same remarkable level as Peterson was in high school.
Remember this recruiting rankings rule of thumb: Hype = Good.
There Is Not a Dominant Quarterback Prospect in the 2014 Class
Although Alabama commitment David Cornwell, Clemson commitment Deshaun Watson, Stanford commitment Keller Chryst and Texas A&M commitment Kyle Allen are great quarterback prospects, it's debatable who is the top guy among them.
That is a sign there is no dominant, clear-cut No. 1 quarterback prospect is in this class. Recruiting publications love to hail the top quarterback as the No. 1 recruit (Vince Young, Jimmy Clausen, Matt Barkley, etc), but without a passer who's head and shoulders above the rest of the country, that is tough to do.
So with Fournette already being the No. 1-ranked recruit, having a ton of hype surrounding him and being in a class without a consensus No. 1 quarterback, why would any publication not allow him to finish as the top player in the 2014 class?
He Is the Most Un-Rivaled No. 1 Ranked Player at His Position in the 2014 Class
Sony Michel, who is committed to Georgia, is one of the best players in the country and a fantastic running back. However, Fournette is still a superior player and Michel is his closest rival for the No. 1 running back slot.
In 2014 recruiting, all current top-ranked players by position (sans Fournette at running back) could be unseated from their thrones. Offensive tackle Cameron Robinson has David Sharpe on his trail while safety Quin Blanding will need to fend off Jamal Adams and Laurence Jones.
Jabrill Peppers has other cornerbacks such as Adoree' Jackson, Tony Brown and Marlon Humphrey making cases why they should be No. 1 at the position. More examples can be made, but the point is clear: for as talented as Michel and other running backs are, none are going to replace Fournette at the top spot.
Fournette's dominance in the running back rankings when compared to other top prospects facing stiff competition from peers at their position is another sign he is clearly the top player in the country.
His Recruitment Will Last Until Signing Day
Fournette has an offer sheet that can stretch across the seven seas. He will not make a decision until National Signing Day, says Scout.com, so there will be no soon ending to his recruitment and that will only add to the scrutiny and mystique around him.
If you look at Matt Barkley in the 2009 recruiting year, he gave an early commitment to USC and this led to him receiving less public attention.
However, in 2011, Jadeveon Clowney's recruitment lasted past signing day, which added to his attention, mystique, and hype which helped him keep his No. 1 ranking (of course it also helped that Clowney was a physical freak).
Robert Nkemdiche's 2013 recruitment is another example of a recruit's No. 1 ranking being aided by their decision to not commit until signing day, though Nkemdiche de-committed from his early pledge to Clemson.
Fournette's recruitment will be the subject of much banter and speculation until February 5th, so he will be the center of attention for the duration of this recruiting cycle. This will add to hype machine and make it even tougher for a fellow 2014 prospect to knock him off the No. 1 ranking.
He's an SEC Area Prospect
Fournette, who is from New Orleans, plays for St. Augustine in Louisiana, which is SEC country. In college football recruiting, prospects from the South are respected more than other regions due to the great competition they face and the respect for SEC recruiting.
This certain kind of respect has an influence on how prospects are ranked, like it or not.
Fournette will get the SEC area/Southern prospect red carpet treatment by recruiting publications, which will also be a great help to him in his efforts to stay on top as the nation's premier prospect.
He's Considering Schools in All Regions, Which Will Increase His Exposure
Although his recruitment still looks like it will come down to LSU and Alabama, Fournette has mentioned several other schools.
USC and Florida State could receive official visits, says Scout.com. Michigan is also under consideration, according GoBlueWolverine.com. Fournette is also close with Texas commit Jermaine Roberts, so the Longhorns will get a long look from the great running back.
So that makes two of the best teams in the SEC, a powerhouse from the west in USC, a Florida juggernaut in Florida State, a midwest school in Michigan and Texas as the top suitors for Fournette.
It is safe to say he will be covered and followed by fans of programs in every major region/market for college football. In turn, Fournette will have national coverage in key areas to increase his exposure as the No. 1 player in this class, which will only firmly entrench his current position and help him remain there through signing day.