Leonard Fournette stays in-state, picks LSU

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Leonard Fournette didn’t break off any of his usual highlight-reel runs Thursday in the Under Armour All-America Game.

Nobody cared.

Not even Fournette, the St. Augustine running back considered the top player in the nation.

“I was focused on the decision more than the game,” he said.

Fournette’s highly anticipated decision came in the fourth quarter when he announced before a national television audience that he will play at LSU.

“I made up my mind Wednesday,” he said.

Fournette, considered the nation’s top recruit, chose LSU over Alabama. Texas was added to his list late, but the Longhorns were considered a long shot.

“I wanted to be different from everybody else,” Fournette said. “Everybody’s going to Bama, but I wanted to create my own legacy for myself.”

Fournette was Louisiana’s first two-time Gatorade Player of the Year after rushing for 1,793 yards and 16 touchdowns for St. Aug, averaging a whopping 9.2 yards per carry. He also had 745 receiving yards and six touchdowns in leading the Purple Knights to a 9-2 record, the Catholic League title and the Division I select state semifinals.

He didn’t put up quite the same eye-popping numbers in Team Highlight’s 31-21 victory over Team Nitro.

Fournette finished with just 43 yards on nine carries but did haul in a 36-yard touchdown pass midway through the fourth quarter.

“It felt like college out there,” Fournette said. “Everybody was fast. So I couldn’t really cut back like I could in high school against regular players. It was harder today.”

Shortly after his touchdown, Fournette walked to the stage to make his announcement.

He was one of three players from New Orleans to verbally commit.

Receiver Devante “Speedy” Noil and defensive end Gerald Willis, teammates at Edna Karr, made their announcements during the first quarter and halftime. Noil verbally committed to Texas A&M, and Willis chose Florida.

Noil finished the game with three catches for 90 yards, including a 64-yard touchdown pass from Parkway quarterback and LSU commit Brandon Harris.

Willis was credited with two tackles. St. Augustine cornerback Jermaine Roberts, a Texas commit, recorded five tackles for Team Highlight. University High offensive lineman Garrett Brumfield, an LSU commit, also played for the winning team.

John Curtis receiver Malachi Dupre, who played on Team Nitro, finished with one catch for 37 yards before sitting out most of the second half after coughing up blood.

“They said it was just something nasal, but they were taking precautions because I took a hard hit,” he said. “But it was an honor to play with the best guys in the country.”

Covington’s Garrald McDowell, an Ole Miss commit, finished with two tackles and a half-sack.

Herm Edwards, the former NFL coach who directed Team Nitro this week, is expecting big things from Fournette.

“Obviously he has a tremendous will,” Edwards said. “He’s driven. Any great player is always driven. He’s driven to be great — not to just be good. He’s not going to waste his talent. He’s a fabulous guy to watch play.”

Founette has high expectations for his college career, too.

And he doesn’t plan to wait long.

“I’m trying to go win this BCS national championship and this Heisman my freshman year there,” he said.