Three programs that are no strangers to landing top talent from the state of Louisiana – Alabama, LSU and USC- were among the schools fortunate enough to get five-star running back Leonard Fournette on campus this summer for unofficial visits.
Alabama, Michigan, Florida, Miami and USC are the schools that currently stand to get official visits from franchise-rated running back Leonard Fournette.
A fourth program, Michigan, was set to play host to the franchise-rated back, but Fournette was unable to visit for BBQ at the Big House last weekend, but preparations for his upcoming season prevented him from making the trip.
According to Fournette’s father, Leonard II, three of those four programs are slated to get coveted official visits from the No. 1 overall prospect in the Class of 2014 247Composite.
“He plans to take officials to Alabama, USC, Michigan and Florida,” Fournette II said, adding that Miami (Fla.) is likely to receive the fifth one.
LSU was not listed as a school slated to get an official, but Fournette II did list them as an additional top school.
Many feel the in-state program is an overwhelming favorite to land the elite running back, who rushed for 2,136 yards and 31 touchdowns and caught 15 passes for 313 yards and three touchdowns as a junior. The 247Sports Crystal Ball, a recruiting industry-first feature allowing for any journalist to participate, overwhelmingly predicts LSU at 91 percent, with 41 of 45 commitment projections for Fournette to the Tigers.
Fournette has been on campus at LSU at least seven times to date with the 6-foot-1, 225-pound prospect’s most recent visit being with his teammates for a 7-on-7 camp.
Speaking of his teammates, one that garnered interest from the LSU staff happens to be his younger brother, Class of 2015 running back Lanard Fournette. Their father says that while no official offers have come yet for his younger son, they will soon.
“LSU likes him and he will be making a name for himself this fall,” Fournette II said. “It would mean a lot to us if any other program offered him as well.”
Running back Leonard Fournette is one of five prospects ever to receive a franchise rating from 247Sports. The others are South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, Alabama offensive tackle Cyrus Kouandjio, Ole Miss defensive end Robert Nkemdiche and Class of 2014 offensive tackle Cameron Robinson of West Monroe (La.).
The chance to play with his little brother has not gone unnoticed on the clear No. 1 running back prospect in the country.
“I know it would mean a lot for LSU or any school to offer my brother,” the younger Fournette said. “I want him to make a name for himself and he is going to prove to everyone this fall he can better than me. We have not talked about it and in my mind it does not matter where he goes, but who would not want to play with his brother? It would be one of the greatest feelings and greatest moment in my life to play with my brother at the college level.”
USC is no stranger to coming into Louisiana and competing with the in-state Tigers for top talent. In the 2007 cycle, the Trojans landed the No. 1 overall prospect according to 247Composite, running back Joe McKnight from John Curtis Christian in New Orleans. Last month, the Fournettes hit the west coast to check out USC, where he was floored by the difference in the atmosphere in Los Angeles and New Orleans.
“The weather was so nice compared to how humid it is at home,” Fournette said. “The coaches at every position were really cool at USC too.”
His father added that based on facilities, the Trojans boast the best campus the Fournette family has seen to date. USC has been in the process of major facilities and campus upgrades.
Of course, everyone who follows recruiting remembers that Alabama landed five-star safety Landon Collins, the No. 7 overall prospect in the 2012 247Composite, out of Dutchtown High in Geismar, La., in a dramatic announcement at the 2012 Under Armour All-America Game.
Back in March, the Fournettes were in Tuscaloosa to check out the back-to-back defending champions.
“Alabama was really nice,” Fournette II said. “(Tide recruiter, New Orleans native and St. Augustine High graduate) Burton Burns and (Alabama head coach) Nick Saban are really nice people. Alabama has a good chance with Leonard. He is wide open and has no favorites, but I know he likes Alabama.”
In fact, Fournette’s father said the Crimson Tide are making the biggest push to try and earn his commitment right now.
Alabama running backs coach Burton Burns is a graduate of St. Augustine High in New Orleans, home of the nation's top running back Leonard Fournette.
“Alabama is the school that recruits him the hardest,” Fournette II said. “They are on him non-stop. Coach Burns, being a St. Augustine high school alumnus, wants him as much as anyone.”
Last year Alabama signed four Top247 running backs, and the Tide potentially has one committed for 2014 in four-star athlete Bo Scarbrough. That, in addition to sophomores T.J. Yeldon and Kenyan Drake, provides Alabama more depth in the backfield than arguably any program in the country. Saban did not try to hide that fact while recruiting Fournette.
“Coach Saban keeps it real with me,” Fournette Jr. said. “He says ‘I do not need you but I want you’ and that really stuck with me. Coach Burns is a St. Augustine alumni and one of the most enjoyable coaches to be around.”
Fournette insists no one school is standing out currently, come Jan. 2, 2014, the country is currently scheduled to learn which lucky school will add the consensus five-star back. Fournette originally planned to make his decision at the end of the summer, but now plans to wait it out, take his official visits, and make his decision at this year’s Under Armour All-America Game in January. His father outlined what it will take to land his highly-coveted son.
“Leonard is looking for a place where he feels like home and most comfortable with the coaches,” Fournette II said. “He wants a coach that is going to give him a chance to get playing time and touch that ball.”
Leonard the son says his father will play an integral role in his decision, just as he has been an important part of his life. Everything in his recruitment, including almost all communication from college coaches goes through Leonard II. Still, the five-star back, one of the most coveted in a decade, gave some hints as to what the winning school can do to land his services.
“I am going to commit to the school that makes me feel at home, where I felt the coaches kept it real with me and a program that treats me like a regular person and not just an athlete,” Fournette said.