Fournette reflects on support, connections to home ahead of Jaguars-Saints preseason tilt
METAIRIE – When the Saints open the preseason at Jacksonville on Thursday night, there will be some conflicted football fans in New Orleans.
Normally an opponent, especially one in the preseason, wouldn’t make any difference to Saints fans, but this opponent happens to feature running back Leonard Fournette, who is from New Orleans and played at St. Augustine High School and LSU.
The potential for divided loyalty wasn’t lost on Fournette as he took part in a conference call with reporters from Louisiana on Monday.
“A lot of people back home are diehard Saints fans but they’re Jacksonville fans too. So they’re torn,” Fournette said. “I’m just blessed to play against the team from my hometown.”
By the way, other locals on the Jaguars are former Alexandria High School and LSU wide receiver D.J. Chark, former West Monroe tackle Cam Robinson and former Jesuit High School and Tulane quarterback Tanner Lee.
Jacksonville, like New Orleans, is trying to build on the success that brought it to the playoffs last season and make a run to the Super Bowl. Fournette was a key to the Jaguars success last season, rushing for more than 1,000 yards as a rookie.
“I worked on everything (in the offseason) – my conditioning, catching the ball out of the ball field, route running,” Fournette said.
He added that he doesn’t have any individual goals for this season.
“My only goal is to win a Super Bowl,” Fournette said.
He obviously has been keeping a close eye on his former college team. The LSU football Twitter account tweeted a picture of wide receiver Jonathan Giles wearing Fournette’s former No. 7 with the comment, “Playmakers wear 7 at LSU.” Fournette retweeted the picture with this comment, “Everybody that wore 7 changed that program” Sunday night.
On the conference call, Fournette was asked about the significance of No. 7 as well as that of No. 18, which was awarded to senior tight end Foster Moreau last week.
“I know the history behind the number (7),” Fournette said. “I always felt at LSU, that No. 18 was the number. But No. 7 is the number for big-time playmakers from the program like myself, Patrick Peterson, Tyrann Mathieu. As I mentioned on Twitter, that number changes the program and there’s a lot to come for players wearing that number.
“There’s a lot of pressure for anyone who wears that number. Everyone expects big things from them. I really don’t know him (Giles), but the way that LSU has been talking about him, he’s a playmaker that makes a lot of good plays. I hope he lives up to the expectations and I think he will and I think he can handle it.”
Fournette was a teammate of Moreau’s in 2015 and 2016.
“(Wearing No. 18) is a big responsibility,” Fournette said. “It’s someone that, through the years now, it’s about leadership, responsibility and courage. In spite of injury, you fight through adversity. Foster was there when I was there and he deserves that number because he has that character of the No. 18 and I feel like it’s a job well-done for him.”
Fournette said that Moreau would assert his leadership whenever practice turned “sluggish or lazy.”
“If you called and asked him,” Fournette said, “he’d say he’s a Fournette brother and it runs in his blood.”
Fournette said he didn’t know a lot about this year’s LSU team, but does know about head coach Ed Orgeron who coached the defensive line while Fournette was a Tiger.
“I haven’t been up there to watch them practice, but I know that coach wants to win,” Fournette said. “He wants what’s best for the team and puts the team in the right position to win games. By him coaching me, that’s what I know. I can’t speak for the team right now, but in my experience, he loves to win.”
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Les East is a nationally renowned freelance journalist. His blog on SportsNOLA.com was named “Best Sports Blog” in 2016 by the Press Club of New Orleans. For 2013 he was named top sports columnist in the United States by the Society of Professional Journalists and Louisiana Sportswriter of the Year by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association. You can follow…