Maybe it's because they entered the SEC at the same time and both play for premier SEC programs, but people seem to love to compare Georgia's Nick Chubb and LSU's Leonard Fournette. The 6-foot-1, 230-pound Fournette came in with the hype, as the nation's No. 1 overall recruit. The 5-foot-10, 220-pound Chubb (the No. 63 recruit) passed him during the season, earning SEC Freshman of the Year honors. But Fournette's lasting impression in the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl (264 all-purpose yards) has us eagerly awaiting an encore. How do they stack up heading into their sophomore campaigns? Here's a look:
Chubb: 219 carries, 1,547 yards, 14 TDs, 18 receptions, 213 yards, 2 TDs
Expectations for Chubb's freshman year were modest because the Bulldogs had arguably the nation's best running back -- Todd Gurley -- on their roster. But when Gurley was hit with a midseason suspension, Chubb went to work. Facing Missouri in his first career start, Chubb ran 34 times for 143 yards in Georgia's 34-0 win. In team history, only Heisman Trophy winner Herschel Walker (1,616 yards, 15 TDs in 1980) posted better season totals as a freshman than did Chubb, who was named SEC Freshman of the Year and was a first-team All-SEC pick.
Fournette: 187 carries, 1,034 yards, 10 TDs, 7 receptions, 127 yards, 25 kickoff returns, 625 yards, 1 TD
Although his hyped freshman season started with a flop (18 yards against Wisconsin), Fournette emerged as LSU's lead running back by midseason. He truly got things rolling with a 140-yard, two-touchdown effort against Florida and capped the season with arguably his two best performances (146 yards vs. Texas A&M and 143 vs. Notre Dame). Fournette set a school freshman rushing record with 1,034 yards and also led the SEC in all-purpose yards with an average of 137.4 yards per game.
Chubb: Poor Merritt Hall didn't know what hit him when Chubb knocked him off his feet in a drill in which he practiced shooting his hands on a bag the former Georgia fullback was holding.
Fournette: Howard Matthews will never live this down. Much like former Tennessee star Bill Bates is still asked about the time Georgia's Herschel Walker ran over him in 1980, the image of Fournette planting the Texas A&M safety on his rear end during a 22-yard touchdown run will be a discussion point for years.
Chubb: Chubb showed a bit of everything on his first career touchdown, running through tackles, flashing a nice cutback move and then turning on the jets to break free for a 47-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter of Georgia's opening win against Clemson. Chubb's touchdown helped the Bulldogs turn what had been a close game into a 45-21 rout.
Fournette: Fournette caught criticism after his first collegiate touchdown, not for the 4-yard scoring run itself, but for what he did afterward. The former No. 1 overall national prospect struck the Heisman Trophy pose in the back of the end zone during a 56-0 blowout of FCS opponent Sam Houston State. Fournette later apologized for showing selfish behavior -- and yeah, maybe it was a bit silly under those circumstances -- but we can all acknowledge that a Heisman could be within his reach at some point in his college career.
Keep Your Head Up
Chubb: Chubb turned heads, and nearly lost his own, in his first career at Georgia. He broke three tackles and kept chugging down the sideline even after Clemson defensive end Kevin Dodd literally ripped Chubb's helmet off his head during a 13-yard run.
Fournette: LSU was driving for the go-ahead touchdown midway through the fourth quarter against then-No. 3 Ole Miss when Fournette sliced through the Rebels' defense on a 6-yard run. What was not immediately obvious was that Ole Miss' Serderius Bryant had not just grabbed Fournette's facemask, he ripped it clean off his helmet. The powerful forces pulling in opposite directions caused three of the helmet's four fittings to rip off, which LSU's equipment manager described as a "catastrophic failure."
Chubb: The freshman saved his best performance of the season for last, rushing 33 times for 266 yards and two touchdowns in the Bulldogs' 37-14 win over Louisville in the Belk Bowl. Although Chubb scored on runs of 31 and 8 yards, his highlight of the night was an 82-yard run out of his own end zone that started a three-play, 97-yard touchdown drive to put the Bulldogs ahead 27-7 in the third quarter.
Fournette: Because of the immense hype that accompanied his signing with the Tigers, most LSU fans would have characterized Fournette's first fall as a good-but-not-great season. However, the A&M game -- punctuated by his running over Matthews -- and his ridiculous performance against Notre Dame generated much more enthusiasm. This was the Fournette we expected to see. Fournette ran just 11 times in the bowl game against Notre Dame, but finished with 143 rushing yards, including touchdowns of 89 and 8 yards. He also exploded for a 100-yard kickoff return touchdown in the second quarter of the Tigers' 31-28 loss to the Irish. Fournette finished the day with 264 all-purpose yards.