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No Citrus Bowl for Fournette

Less than 24 hours earlier, LSU coach Ed Orgeron said that defensive lineman Christian LaCouture made the best personal decision when announcing he would return for a fifth year.

On Friday afternoon, Leonard Fournette announced that his college career is over. Fournette, who has been bothered an injured ankle all season, will not play when the Tigers face Louisville in the Citrus Bowl at Orlando (Fla.) on New Year’s Eve.

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AP Photo/Jonathan Bachman

It was no surprise that Fournette will not be in uniform against Louisville. Undoubtedly, sitting out the bowl is the best for Fournette’s future in football.

“This was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever had to make, not playing in the bowl,” Fournette said. “But, it’s best for me and my future. I wanted to play. I’m not a quitter. I tried to play through (ankle injury) the best as I could.”

Fournette missed four games during the regular season because of the injury – including the finale at Texas A&M. Fournette made a last-minute change and played a week earlier against Florida. However, Fournette sat out the fourth quarter of LSU’s 16-10 loss to the Gators.

No medical procedure will be needed on Fournette’s ankle. The ankle simply needs to get rest and go through rehabilitation. Fournette said that he intends to participate at LSU’s Pro Day in March. Fournette had already announced that he was leaving for the NFL after this season.

“My ankle is 85 or 90 percent,” Fournette said. “It’s getting better, but there is still work to do. I want to rehab and get ready for the NFL. I am just continuing to chase my dream.”

Fournette will complete his career as the No. 4 rusher in LSU history with 3,830 yards – trailing Kevin Faulk, Dalton Hilliard and Charles Alexander. But, Fournette had only 616 carries – much fewer than the other four players. Faulk, Hilliard and Alexander were all four-year players. He ran for 40 touchdowns.

“Leonard Fournette will go down as one of the greatest LSU players in history,” Orgeron said. “He has represented us and his family well.”

Fournette relayed an interesting story involving Orgeron during his recruiting. Orgeron was an assistant coach at Southern California when Fournette was playing at New Orleans St. Augustine High School. Fournette chose LSU over Alabama and USC.

“During my sophomore year (at St. Augustine), Coach O was at USC,” Fournette said. “He told me that one day he would coach me. It’s funny how God works.”

According to Fournette, it was an emotional situation when he informed the team earlier Friday that he would not play in the Citrus Bowl.

“The teammates got emotional when I told them I wasn’t going to play,” Fournette said. “It was hard telling the guys. I love them dearly. You grow so close together through this. Without my brothers, this would be even harder. I thank them and I will support them in the bowl game.”

Fournette arrived at LSU hoping to bring home Southeastern Conference and national titles. Fournette began his career in 2014 – three seasons after the Tigers’ last SEC championship. But, there would be no championships in Fournette’s three years. Moreover, coach Les Miles was fired earlier this season.

“I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything in the world,” Fournette said. “I never regret becoming a LSU Tiger and playing for this group. I wouldn’t want to be at any other school. LSU is forever in my heart.”

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