Anyone who follows college football recruiting 2014 has heard of Leonard Fournette.
Rivals.com considers him the no. 3 player in the country, 247sports ranks him at two, and both ESPN and scout.com rank him as the best player nationally. Not surprisingly, the star running back from St. Augustine High School (New Orleans, LA) has been rumored to be leaning towards either LSU or Alabama.
But could the Texas Longhorns pull off an upset?
I know it’s hard to consider anyone picking the ‘Horns to be an ‘upset’. After all, it’s one of the most prestigious football brands in the country along with being the most lucrative, despite only one National Championship in the last 40-plus years. Still, anytime a non-SEC team lands arguably the best player in the country right from the heart of the deep south, it’s an upset no matter who you are.
It’s not impossible for Mack Brown and staff, though. Fournette has already taken an unofficial visit to Austin and was blown away by nearly everything. The facilities, campus and coaching staff all made a heck of an impression on the bruising 6-foot 1, 232-pound tailback. Brown’s laid back recruiting style also apparently made a good impression.
And let’s not forget, Fournette’s current teammate at St. Augustine, defensive tackle Courtney Garnett, is already committed to the Longhorns.
Another thing the ‘Horns have working for them is their depth chart. The three-headed monster at tailback right now (Joe Bergeron, Malcolm Brown and Johnathan Gray) could be singing their swan song together this fall. After this year, both Bergeron and Brown will be eligible for the 2014 NFL Draft, and it wouldn’t be surprising if one (if not both) left early.
If that’s the case, Fournette would easily step in and share the load with Gray, if not beat him out for the job entirely: he’s that good.
At worst, Bergeron and Brown come back for their senior seasons, and Fournette could potentially take a redshirt year, though I don’t think Fournette would sign with Texas knowing he may not play his first year.
Schematically, Fournette would be an excellent fit with Texas, but he’s talented enough to be a good fit in nearly any scheme. He’s big, he’s strong, he’s fast, he’s got great vision and cutting ability, he can catch the ball out of the backfield, etc. Not only is he good enough to play anywhere in the country next fall, he’s probably physically developed enough to even play with the big boys this fall, after only three years of high school.
So does Texas have a shot? Absolutely. It’s Texas after all, and there’s countless instances in the past where the ‘Horns pulled elite players from the deep south. But it seems clear right now the ‘Horns are in the no. 3 spot behind the two SEC powerhouses. Still, there’s an awful lot of time left.
One thing we do know though: the storyline of Fournette’s recruitment is far from over.