Leonard Fournette is without a doubt one of the greatest running backs LSU, and college football in general has ever seen. After only his sophomore year, he’s been called “the next Adrian Peterson,” and been compared to LeBron James and Bryce Harper in terms of pure athletic ability and talent. His sophomore year was full of multiple incredible games of over 200 yards rushing, and he looks to be a top prospect for the NFL draft once his college career comes to an end.
When one thinks of receiving a sportsmanship award, a sense of incompetence comes to mind, a sense of not being the best, but getting an award just to feel better about not being the best. When Leonard Fournette won the SEC Sportsmanship Award, it was absolutely not to make him feel better about being sub-par. In the SEC, awards are not simply handed out. While being one of the best players on the field, he’s also one of the best players off of the field in terms of humility, kindness, and respect.
This past season, after LSU hosted South Carolina for a game that was meant to be a home game for the SC Gamecocks but had to be relocated because of massive flooding, Fournette made a hugely courteous gesture. In October of 2015, South Carolina experienced massive flooding, and being born and raised in New Orleans, Fournette is no stranger to flooding of this magnitude. He was able to relate to the devastation that many people in South Carolina were experiencing during this time.
After the game against South Carolina, in which Fournette racked up 158 yards on the ground and helped LSU defeat the Gamecocks 45-24, he announced that he would auction off his game jersey, and donate all of the money to help the victims of the flooding in South Carolina. College sports players are normally not allowed to do this, or get compensated in any way for their collegiate athletic success, but because it was for such a noble, humble cause, the NCAA approved the auctioning of Fournette’s jersey, which ended up raising a whopping $101,000.
This was no random act of kindness by Fournette, but an act of kindness going toward a purpose that he truly believed in and could relate to. Leonard Fournette “understood what the people in South Carolina were experiencing,” and “wanted to do anything that [he] could do to help make a difference.”