College basketball season may have just started, but there is still a lot of unfinished business to be taken care of in the world of college football. That business includes which standout player will have the honor of being nominated for and potentially winning the coveted Heisman Trophy.
The race to the trophy is winding down as Week 12 approaches, so who is the front-runner to win that race? Clearly, it is Louisiana-bred running back Leonard Fournette of LSU.
The 6-foot-1-inch junior has been at the helm of college football fame since the beginning of the season, and his stats show why. In the Tigers’ Week 2 matchup with Mississippi State, he had 228 yards, three touchdowns and averaged 12 yards per carry.
Since then, Fournette cannot even get to class in a normal manner.
“Going to class is crazy,” he told ESPN. “Taking selfies with people for their parents, just everybody showing love to me. I don’t have a problem with it. Sometimes it may get out of hand, but that comes with the territory.”
Fournette was also in the spotlight recently, but not for his play. His family was put under the spotlight on Nov. 10 regarding whether or not they broke NCAA rules by setting up an online website focusing on the rising popularity of the young running back.
The site launched last season and was originally set to sell T-shirts and hats with a phrase Fournette came up with in high school, “BUGA Nation”—an acronym for “Being United Generates Attitude.” According to Fournette’s mother, the sales were stopped within 24 hours after the NCAA learned it existed.
Although he remains a huge name in the world of college sports, the past two games for Fournette have been anything but impressive compared to how his season began. In the No. 17 Tigers’ last two games, both losses, Fournette only averaged 61 rushing yards and one score per outing. His poor performance in both of these games contributed to LSU’s consecutive losses.
What this shows Heisman voters is when Fournette does well, LSU does well, making it hard to tell just how high his chances of winning still are.
In order to keep his chase alive, he is going to need to explode in the Tigers’ next game against Ole Miss this weekend. The No. 25 Rebels’ head coach Hugh Freeze recognizes the level of talent Fournette brings to the game, telling his team on Monday,“You’re playing one of the best backs probably in the history of the SEC.”
Fournette’s Heisman hopes also rely on how fellow SEC and Big Ten standout running backs Derrick Henry and Ezekiel Elliot play this weekend. Alabama’s Henry is currently on CBS Sports’ Heisman Watch and averages 178.7 yards per game for the Crimson Tide. Ohio State’s Elliot comes in right behind Fournette and Henry in the fight for the Heisman with 1,425 rushing yards so far this season.
In the year of the running back, Fournette will need to prove this weekend why he deserves to remain in the spotlight and walk across the stage with the iconic trophy in his hands come Dec. 14.
Olivia Mulvihill is a journalism major from Allentown, Pa. She can be reached at olivia.mulvihill@student. shu.edu or on twitter @OliviaMulvihill.