Update: LSU coach Ed Orgeron, on Thursday morning, noted that every player's reason for missing a bowl game may be different. For Leonard Fournette, his injury had to be taken into consideration. "I know if Leonard was 100 percent, he'd be playing with us," Orgeron said. "No question. I do believe, myself personally, that if you're 100 percent, you should finish off with your team. ... Guys have their own mind on what they want to do in their career. That's something Leonard wanted to do. We wish him the best."
Leonard Fournette's college career will end with one more missed game.
"This is one of the hardest decisions I've ever had to make, not playing in the bowl, but it's best for me and my future," Fournette said. "It was hard telling the guys. I love them dearly. You grow so close together through this. I'll forever thank them and support them."
Fournette also said that his ankle was about "85 to 90 percent" and that it's getting better, but there's "still work to do."
While this will no doubt ruffle some feathers, it's hard to get upset about Fournette's decision. Were LSU playing in a New Year's Six game, or even a playoff game, I bet Fournette would play through the ankle injury. With nothing on the line but a Citrus Bowl title, however, it's hard to blame him for being more concerned for his health with the NFL Draft and millions of dollars looming in his immediate future.
So Fournette's college career has come to an end. He was one of the few players to show up on the college level with a ton of hype behind him and actually live up to it. Fournette finishes his career with 3,830 rushing yards and 40 touchdowns in three seasons. He also caught 41 passes for another 526 yards and a score.
The stats don't tell the whole story, though. It wasn't so much how many yards Fournette rushed for as it was the manner in which he gained them. Fast enough to run around or by a defender, and big enough to just run through them when necessary, Fournette was one of the most enjoyable backs I've seen on the college level since Adrian Peterson.