Fournette Wins Football Writers' National Honor

by Michael Bonnette (@LSUBonnette)
Fournette Wins Football Writers' National Honor

DALLAS – LSU running back Leonard Fournette broke a school record, averaging 12.0 yards per carry and tied a career-high with three touchdowns, in the Tigers’ emphatic 45-21 win over Auburn. Fournette’s 228-yard rushing effort earned him the AutoNation FWAA Offensive Player of the Week honor for games of the weekend of Sept. 19.

Fournette, a 6-1, 230-pound sophomore from New Orleans, broke loose on the game’s first play for 71 yards, a career-long rush to the Auburn 4-yard line that set up LSU’s first touchdown. Included in his 19 carries were touchdown runs of 40, 29 and 1 yard, and the 228-yard effort is the seventh-best single-game mark in school history.

“I was just feeding off of the crowd, the loud noises,” Fournette said. “Coach Frank (Wilson) told me to get in that zone. The O-line said they were counting on me, so I put the team on my back.”

“I’ll tell you one thing, Leonard sure likes playing,” LSU head coach Les Miles said. “He did some things today where I said, ‘Wow.’ He took one of their tackles and threw him into another tackle and still came out in the other end. When you have a big back who can really move his feet, at times it can be very difficult to tackle him.”

Once his third touchdown gave LSU a 38-7 lead late in the third quarter, Fournette sat for most of the remainder of the game. Nonetheless, Fournette’s big game now ranks him No. 1 in the FBS, averaging 193.5 rushing yards per game. His two-game total of 387 rushing yards (after gaining 159 against Mississippi State last week) is the most for any player in LSU history through the first two games of a season.

As part of AutoNation’s history of charitable involvement, AutoNation will donate $1,000 to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF) in Fournette’s name. This charitable college football initiative culminates with the AutoNation Cure Bowl, a new post-season NCAA football game that kicks off bowl season at the Citrus Bowl Stadium in Orlando, Fla., and will be aired by CBS Sports Network. The aptly named AutoNation Cure Bowl also serves as a fund raiser for the BCRF, CharityWatch’s only A+ rated breast cancer organization in the country.

“We want to celebrate the very best of college football, while also helping to raise awareness for the importance of finding a cure for cancer,” says AutoNation CMO Marc Cannon. “This season-long partnership with the FWAA, leading up to the AutoNation Cure Bowl, puts a spotlight on a cause that we’re determined to tackle.”

“In our 75th season of existence, this a marvelous platform to get our players and the team of the week series excellent exposure as well as helping AutoNation in its effort to fight cancer and contribute to the educational funds of deserving student-athletes,” said FWAA 2015 President Lee Barfknecht of the Omaha World-Herald. “It is very exciting to be able to help our organization as well as others in this splendid effort.”

The FWAA National Defensive Player of the Week and National Team of the Week, both sponsored by AutoNation for the first time this year, have been determined collectively by a group of FWAA officers and the FWAA All-America Committee for several years. The AutoNation FWAA Offensive Player of the Week has been added this season. Nominations are taken from game performance all over the country each week and then those nominations are reviewed by the FWAA, which determines the actual recipients.

AutoNation is also the new sponsor of the 2015 FWAA All-America Team, which will be comprised of 26 first-team and 26 second-team selections as nominated by the membership and chosen by the FWAA All-America Committee. The 2015 AutoNation FWAA All-America Team will be announced at the AutoNation Cure Bowl on Dec. 19.

Coincidentally, the 2002 and ’03 FWAA All-America teams were honored on the floor of the very same Citrus Bowl Stadium. Over the years, the FWAA’s All-America teams have been honored in different locations and on various media platforms during the second-longest continuous annual selection of an All-America team in major college football.

Additionally, the AutoNation 75th Anniversary FWAA All-America Team, which was announced in August, will be celebrated during the 2015 season. That team includes players selected from past FWAA All-America teams dating to 1944, three years after the organization was formed in 1941. The AutoNation 75th Anniversary FWAA All-America Team is composed of three teams of 25 players each, with all eight decades, starting in the 1940s, represented among the playing eras of members on the team. It includes 56 National Football Foundation College Football Hall of Famers. Forty-one schools are represented on the team that was selected by an FWAA Blue Ribbon Committee after taking into consideration nomications from the membership.