With Jeremy Hill off to NFL, LSU Run Game Is Now the Leonard Fournette Show

Barrett Sallee@BarrettSalleeSEC Football Lead WriterJanuary 13, 2014

USA Today/Kim Klement

The thought of Jeremy Hill and Leonard Fournette was more myth than reality after all.

Reports surfaced last week (via The Advocate) that Hill—a rising junior who is three years removed from high school—might be leaning towards returning to Baton Rouge, La., after rushing for 1,401 yards and 16 touchdowns last season.

Hill threw a curveball on Twitter on Monday, however, when he announced that he would forgo his final two seasons of eligibility with the Tigers and enter the 2014 NFL draft.

With all of that being said, I have decided to forego my Junior season and enter the 2014 NFL Draft. #GeauxTigers #33ToTheNFL #Blessed

— Jeremy Hill (@JeremyHill33) January 13, 2014

It's hard to blame Hill. 

After rushing for 216 yards and two touchdowns against the Iowa Hawkeyes in the Outback Bowl, in a game in which everybody on the planet knew he was getting the ball, it's hard to imagine his pro stock ever being higher.

So where does it leave the LSU Tigers? Shea Dixon of 247Sports.com has the most likely scenario.

Most likely scenario now: the #LSU 1-2 RB punch in 2014 will be Leonard Fournette and Terrence Magee. Not a bad combo..

— Shea Dixon (@Sheadixon) January 13, 2014

Magee, a rising senior who rushed for 626 yards, eight touchdowns and an average of 7.28 yards per carry last year in a reserve role, would provide a solid veteran presence in the backfield.

But the real intrigue would be with Fournette, who would step into a situation as a true freshman that's ready-made for him to be an instant-impact superstar.

The 5-star prospect in the 247Sports.com composite index is ranked as the top-overall prospect in the class of 2014, and he committed to the Tigers at the Under Armour All-America Game on Jan. 2. The 6'1", 226-pounder from St. Augustine High School in New Orleans has drawn comparisons to former Oklahoma Sooners running back Adrian Peterson.

LSU RB commit Leonard Fournette
LSU RB commit Leonard FournetteSteve Dykes-USA TODAY Sports

Is the bar set too high?

That remains to be seen.

Fournette has all of the tools to be a stud in Baton Rouge. 

He's big enough to take the punishment between the tackles, has the feet to make defenders miss in space and possesses the game-breaking speed to run away from a defense. Comparisons to Peterson may seem premature, but everything about Fournette screams "superstar."

We'll see it sooner rather than later, because with the door open in Baton Rouge, he'll likely get a shot to earn significant carries early in his career.

Jan 2, 2014; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Team Highlight running back Leonard Fournette (5) verbally commits to LSU Tigers with his family on ESPN during the second half at Tropicana Field. Team Highlight defeated the Team Nitro 31-21. Mandatory Credit: Kim K
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

An instant impact for a running back wouldn't be the most shocking development in the world.

Over the last few seasons, Alex Collins, T.J. Yeldon, Todd Gurley, Michael Dyer, Marcus Lattimore, and Isaiah Crowell all developed into stars early in their SEC careers. Some maintained that level, and others moved on after off-the-field issues, but all were highly touted running backs who took advantage of an open door.

With LSU breaking in a new quarterback and superstar wide receivers Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr. gone to the NFL, head coach Les Miles and offensive coordinator Cam Cameron will need to rely on the running game early to be successful in 2014. 

Magee may be the incumbent, but Fournette will steal the show in Baton Rouge in 2014.



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