Leonard Fournette’s Nod to Running Back Golden Years

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Leonard Fournette tweeted the below image and message from LSU walk-through at Syracuse’s Carrier Dome Friday afternoon:

It’s funny how the cosmos work sometime. Fournette’s tweet came across the timeline just minutes after I finished reading George Schroeder’s terrific USA Today profile on the sophomore running back. As suggested by the title, “The fabulous future — and present — of LSU’s Leonard Fournette,” Schroeder’s feature is a look forward at the big things likely ahead for Fournette.

Looking ahead for Fournette means looking back — back to an era when running backs were the premier stars of the game.

The running-back-as-interchangeable-piece dynamic that’s been so prevalent in the NFL for the last five years or so hasn’t quite swept college football to the same degree. Still, running backs take a backseat to their quarterback counterparts.

The first few weeks of the 2015 season are seemingly reversing course, with a contingent of Georgia’s Nick Chubb, Alabama’s Derrick Henry, Florida State’s Dalvin Cook, UCLA’s Paul Perkins and others setting the pace around college football.

No one’s taking off quite like Fournette, however, whose combination of size, speed and play-making ability immediately illicit comparisons to the position’s irreplaceable superstars.

Some opt to compare him to more modern star backs, who played college football within the last decade.

Others have gone back further. I’ve fallen in this category, having recently drawn the parallel to SMU and Los Angeles Rams legend Eric Dickerson.

Fournette’s tweet begs comparison to the old school — and I have to say, Jim Brown and Ernie Davis are great comparisons given their size and their impact on the game.

Brown and Davis helped revolutionize the running back position; on his current pace in 2015, Fournette is re-revolutionizing it.