Few would argue LSU running back Leonard Fournette will be one of the top college football players entering the 2016 season. Fournette appeared to be the runaway Heisman frontrunner for the bulk of the 2016 season until he and LSU ran into a brick wall against Alabama and were knocked off course as a Heisman favorite and national title contender. Fournette ended the season averaging 162.75 rushing yards per game, roughly 15 more yards per game than his next closest competitor, Heisman Trophy winner Derrick Henry of Alabama.
So as we inch closer and closer to the start of a new college football season, many are anxious to see Fournette bounce back and reclaim the frontrunner status for the Heisman Trophy in a race that will likely feature the likes of Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson and Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey and perhaps even Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett. Many have reason to fear Fournette, but one confident commit heading to Nebraska in 2017 showed no such fear behind his computer keyboard.
Avery Roberts , a four-star linebacker recruit in the Class of 2017, responded to a tweet praising Fournette yesterday posted by Keith Miller of XOS. With a picture of Fournette running with the football, Miller asked, “What you gone do when this [tiger] comes around the corner?” Roberts, one who has never faced Fournette on the field and likely never will, showed a bit of confidence in his own abilities and suggested he would make the tackle with authority. He didn’t quite say it that way, but that was the implied response.
“Same thing I would do to anyone else,” Roberts said. “Tell him good night and put him to sleep!”
Roberts later deleted the tweet, which is shame because there was nothing too bad about showing that kind of confidence. Perhaps putting someone to sleep was a bit over the top given the sensitive nature the football world is showing to head trauma, and maybe that was part of the reason for taking down the tweet. But if you are a Nebraska fan, you want to see that kind of confidence and intensity from your incoming players. A player who feels he would make the stop on a talent like Fournette should be praised, not bashed.
Yes, Fournette has a track record of making defenders look absolutely silly, but Roberts showed he is not intimidated to go up against the best of the best college football has to offer. Unfortunately, he will likely never get a chance to back up that kind of talk against Fournette. Fournette is expected to head to the NFL in 2017, just as Roberts is coming to Nebraska, and the two programs last faced each other in 1986, which means it could be a while before we see them on the same field again anyway even with a handful of Big Ten-SEC bowl matchups lined up.