St. Aug's Leonard Fournette is Mr. Football
NEW ORLEANS — Leonard Fournette might not be the first Louisiana Mr. Football recipient to credit and share the award with his teammates, but the St. Augustine running back qualifies as one of the most eloquent.
“Without my team, I wouldn’t be able to be where I am right now as Mr. Football or an All-American,” Fournette said after being informed of his selection by the Louisiana Sports Writers Association.
“We practice as a team. I wasn’t practicing outside alone, working at six o’clock in the morning, working hard, putting the dedication in. So I feel like it’s a team effort.
“Without them, I can’t block for myself, I can’t run the ball, I can’t throw it to myself. So it was a team effort. I thank my team for helping me get this award.”
A three-time All-State selection, Fournette is the first St. Augustine player to earn the Farm Bureau/Mr. Football award since the program’s inception in 1995.
In addition to being regarded as the nation’s top senior prospect by multiple recruiting services, Fournette was named the Class 5A offensive most valuable player this past season after leading the Purple Knights to an 8-1 record, a New Orleans Catholic League championship and a No. 1 ranking in the final Class 5A state poll selected by the LSWA.
St. Augustine also earned the top power rating of any 5A team in the state en route to an advance to the Division I semifinals.
St. Augustine’s District 9-5A champions defeated two eventual state champions during the regular season in Curtis and Rummel and also beat two other semifinalists in Holy Cross and Covington.
St. Augustine’s Catholic League championship was its first outright crown since 1993. The victory against Curtis was St. Augustine’s first in seven games against the state’s premier program.
“No doubt Leonard took his game to a new level,” St. Augustine Coach Cyril Crutchfield said. “You look at his work ethic away from the game. He already was a hard worker, but his elevation of his work ethic elevated the team’s work ethic.
“We were not able to win the (state) championship, but we did do a lot of things no St. Augustine team had done.”
A strapping 6-foot-1, 225 pounds, Fournette totaled 3,697 all-purpose yards and scored 25 touchdowns in 11 games to earn New Orleans All-Metro and District 9-5A offensive player of the year honors for a second straight time.
Fournette totaled 2,859 yards and 23 touchdowns from scrimmage as a runner and receiver and another 322 yards and two touchdowns passing as a Wildcat quarterback.
A four-year starter and four-time All-District selection, Fournette averaged 163.8 yards per game and 9.6 yards per carry while rushing 188 times for 1,802 yards and 17 touchdowns with a long run of 79. He caught 42 passes for another 745 yards and 6 scores and he completed 21 of 32 passes for 322 yards and 2 touchdowns while being intercepted once.
Fournette also played safety and linebacker well enough in spot duty to force a fumble and return an interception for a touchdown and prolific enough as a return specialist to run a kickoff back for a touchdown.
The kickoff return covered 85 yards versus Jesuit in in the Division I playoffs while the interception returned 80 yards against Rummel served as punctuation to a 35-21 regular-season victory against the eventual Division I state champions.
“Leonard is a remarkable young man,” Crutchfield said. “His football attributes speak for themselves. Leonard is the total package. He has great vision. He has power and speed. He is explosive. And he’s actually shifty and agile as well.
“His football IQ is off the charts. I think that comes from the amount of time he spends as a student of the game. He studies himself, he studies the opponent and he studies our team. He makes suggestions.
“And the most remarkable thing about it is (the suggestions are) not always designed for (him). That speaks well for the type of team-oriented mindset he has.”
Although the Knights finished 9-2 after falling to Rummel in their rematch in the Division I semifinals, Fournette said, “I feel like I gave 110 percent in each and every game we played. Even though we didn’t get (the state championship) we wanted, I feel like as a team and as a leader that we grew up.
“I became wiser and I grew up as a young man. I feel we accomplished a lot and we created a legacy for ourselves and I couldn’t be prouder of myself or my team for stepping up to the challenge of this season.”