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Leonard Fournette Leading the Way with Character

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Each year college football writers and pundits put out a list of players and teams that we should watch. Of course, if you watch a lot of Division I football, you will hear the names Ohio State, TCU, Alabama and LSU.

One player that has garnered a lot of national attention is Leonard Fournette, a running back for Louisiana State University. He is in his sophomore season there after having a terrific first year. Fournette’s star began to rise when he was a stellar running back for St. Augustine High School in New Orleans, Louisiana. St. Augustine has long been a football powerhouse in the state and has sent its share of players to both college and to the NFL. They have also had some of their games televised by ESPN. So Fournette has followed a number of great student-athletes from this venerable high school.

Fournette has not disappointed the Tiger faithful this year. LSU is undefeated, and Fournette is running over, around and through would-be tacklers. For example, during a three-game stretch, he was averaging more than 200 yards per game.

Recently, LSU played the University of South Carolina in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, because of flooding and hurricane conditions in Columbia, South Carolina, home of the Gamecocks.

Leonard Fournette rushed for 158 yards in LSU’s victory over South Carolina. All of the monetary proceeds went to the hurricane relief fund set up in South Carolina, which was under a state of emergency.

What happened after the game was one of the most poignant and heart-warming moments you will ever see at a college football game. Just as the television reporter was getting ready to interview Fournette about the victory, he pulls out a prepared statement and reads it.

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In the statement, he expresses his empathy and deep concern for the citizens of the state of South Carolina because of the hurricane and the destruction left in its wake. Fournette goes on to state that he fully understands what they are going through because of what he, his family and the city of New Orleans went through with Hurricane Katrina.

Fournette’s plan to auction off his No. 7 jersey that he wore in the game has been approved by the NCAA.

I was surprised—no, more like speechless—at the actions of this star student-athlete on this national stage. For him to think of the plight and perils of others when cheers and accolades are coming his way was an act of unquestionable maturity and sensitivity. As a nation, we are our brother’s and sister’s keeper. Fournette used the aforementioned statement in a meaningful and purposeful way.

Sometimes college student-athletes think only about the final score. After all, in sports competition, usually you win or you lose without any gray areas. So our hearts become full when we see a young man like Fournette who sees life’s big picture.

In order for Fournette to show that kind of love to people that he has never met, you can tell that he is loved by his family and friends.

I have never met Leonard Fournette yet I believe he has exemplary character. This attitude of caring demonstrated by him after the game was molded and shaped by his family at home. It was further crafted by the teachers and coaches at St. Augustine High School. Let us not forget the spiritual influence in his life that obviously has become one of his guiding principles.

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College athletics is big business and is composed of young men and women who are combining rigorous academics and their chosen sport. There are many of us who went through the process years ago. It requires self-discipline and an uncompromising commitment to excellence both on and off the playing field. It is not easy; so that is why the term student-athlete has such a strong meaning.

Fournette has a bright future at LSU and perhaps at the professional football level as well. However, his future as a caring and productive person is even brighter.

Let us cheer for Leonard Fournette on Saturdays not just because he is a talented football player but because he is also a solid citizen with great character.

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