Expectations are a funny thing in college sports. Every high school prospect comes in with a certain amount of hype and intrigue, but the expectations they set for themselves can at times be somewhat extreme.
That's where running back Leonard Fournette comes in.
The No. 1 prospect in the 2014 recruiting class, according to 247Sports' composite rankings, has set the bar tremendously high for himself and the LSU Tigers program. Fournette spoke about his predictions for the upcoming season, per Ben Glicksman of Sports Illustrated:
"My expectations: Heisman candidate, All-American, national title,” Fournette said. “That’s just my first year as a freshman, though."
That's right, just his first year as a freshman. You know, potentially winning the Heisman as a freshman, something only two players—Johnny Manziel and Jameis Winston—have ever done in the history of college football.
And then there's that whole thing about winning a national championship. Sure, anyone might think about the potential of lifting the trophy at the end of the season, but putting that burden on the shoulders of your teammates and coaching staff? That might not sit well with others in the program.
Fournette's former strength and conditioning coach at St. Augustine High School Eddie Compass spoke about his pupil, per Sonny Shipp of 247Sports:
Leonard Fournette is the greatest high school running back I've ever seen. No disrespect to Marshall, because Marshall was incredible. But I've seen Leroy Hoard, I've seen Burnell Quinn, I've seen Reggie Dupard, I've seen Marshall. I haven't seen anybody that has the agility, strength and power of Leonard Fournette.
That Marshall guy Compass keeps referring to is none other than Marshall Faulk. Yes, the same Marshall Faulk that was elected to the NFL Hall of Fame in 2011. That's how special Fournette is even in comparison to some of the all-time greats.
While it's still difficult to see the Tigers winning a national championship in 2014 or even the SEC outright, LSU certainly has a special player on its hands. Thanks to his immense talent out of the backfield and explosiveness off the line, Fournette has a chance to immediately make an impact this fall for LSU.
As for that Heisman trophy, stealing that away from Winston—who, oh by the way, is still with Florida State this season—will be somewhat difficult. But with at least two more seasons in Baton Rouge, Fournette will almost certainly be a contender in the not-so-distant future.
Regardless of whether or not Fournette's predictions come to fruition, watching him try to prove those expectations weren't outrageous will be captivating all season long. Fans were already going to be watching him bring his talents to college football; now there's just a little added intrigue.
Get your popcorn ready. Leonard Fournette is coming.
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