JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Don’t call Leonard Fournette a trendsetter.
Several high-profile college players already have announced they will not play in their team’s bowl game and intend to declare for the NFL draft, and Fournette says he hopes his decision to do so last year was not a factor.
"Everybody makes their own decisions, just like I made mine,” the Jacksonville Jaguars rookie running back said Thursday. “They have a future, they have a family just like I did so everybody’s their own man when it comes to that.”
Florida State safety Derwin James as well as three Texas players – left tackle Connor Williams, safety DeShon Elliott and cornerback CB Holton Hill – have said they are done playing for their schools. That’s not likely to be the final list, either, as other potential NFL players start evaluating their situations.
Fournette was the first high-profile player to make that decision when he decided to sit out LSU’s Citrus Bowl game against Louisville because he was still dealing with a chronic ankle injury. Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey opted out of the Cardinals’ Sun Bowl matchup against North Carolina.
Fournette ended up being drafted fourth overall and McCaffrey was drafted eighth overall, so their decisions did not impact their evaluations.
“For the guys in college, I’m not saying follow behind me and not play in your bowl game,” said Fournette, who has rushed for 822 yards and seven touchdowns. “I did it because I was still hurting. I played the majority of my season hurt and I felt like that was the best decision for my future, for my family.”