Leonard Fournette was the No. 1 player in the ESPN 300 recruiting rankings for the Class of 2014, and the LSU sophomore running back hasn’t disappointed.
On Saturday, he had 233 rushing yards against Eastern Michigan and became the first player in SEC history to rush for at least 200 yards in three straight games.
Despite playing one fewer game than a number of FBS players so far (LSU’s scheduled opener Sept. 6 against McNeese State was canceled because of dangerous weather), Fournette leads the nation with 864 rushing yards this season. That's the most through four games in LSU history and the most by any FBS player since 2000.
Carrying the mail
Fournette has accounted for 51 percent of his team’s yards from scrimmage; no other Power 5 running back this season has accounted for more than 40 percent.
If he were to keep it up, Fournette would be responsible for the highest percentage of a team’s yards from scrimmage of any FBS running back in the past 10 years.
Using his offensive line
Of Fournette’s 864 rushing yards, 530 have come before he makes first contact with the defense. He is averaging a Power 5-leading 133 rushing yards before contact per game this season. Ohio State’s Ezekiel Elliott is the only other Power 5 running back averaging 100 or more yards before contact.
Fournette has an FBS-high 11 rushes of 20 yards or more. Among 127 FBS schools, only 12 have more 20-yard rushes this season than Fournette.
He is extremely dangerous when he can turn the corner. Of his 99 rushes this season, 40 have gone outside, and seven of those resulted in touchdowns. That ties Alabama’s Derrick Henry for the most rushing touchdowns outside among Power 5 backs.
At an average of 10.9 yards per rush on such carries, Fournette ranks second in the Power 5 (minimum 25 rushes).
Things might get tougher for Fournette now that LSU is in the conference portion of its schedule.
The Tigers play South Carolina on Saturday (noon ET, ESPN/WatchESPN), and Fournette needs 136 yards to become the 10th player in FBS history with 1,000 rushing yards in his first five games.
South Carolina is giving up an average of 170 rushing yards per game, which is the 75th-most among FBS teams.
The FBS record for consecutive 200-yard games is five, held by USC’s Marcus Allen, Oklahoma State’s Barry Sanders and North Texas’ Jamario Thomas. The most recent FBS player with four in a row was Tulane’s Matt Forte in 2007.