Leonard Fournette is already the most popular player on LSU’s football team, and he is yet to play a single down of actual football in the purple and gold. Buga Nation merchandise is on the shelves, fans are working on their hand signs, and we’ve had multiple breathless articles on Fournette which include lots of even more breathless comments.
Buga Nation Merchandise pic.twitter.com/d5BmbuJiVO— Hunter Paniagua (@HunterPaniagua) August 1, 2014
That’s great. Be excited. It’s fun to be excited, and one of our biggest themes here at ATVS is that fans should spend more time enjoying stuff. This should all be about having fun, otherwise, what’s the point? If we wanted to be dour, humorless scolds, we’d root for Bama.
By all indications, Leonard Fournette is going to be the next great player at LSU. His highlight film is amazing, every evaluation of him is just one long rave, and he conducts himself off the field with the kind of maturity not usually associated with 18 year old kids who have spent the last decade having every single person they meet tell them how great they are.
Here’s the rub for me: I find greatness to be inherently boring. Of course you need great players to win, and I’m a big fan of winning as well. I’ve got my Buga Nation pompoms at the ready, just like everyone else. I am absolutely thrilled he chose to come to Baton Rouge, particularly because we had so many eggs in that basket. However, it’s unlikely that he’ll ever be my favorite player.
I know this is a minority view not just of sports, but of sports in general. Some of us are just wired to root for underdogs. Michael Jordan is still one of the most popular athletes on earth despite acting like a sociopath. Heck, that’s WHY people liked him. Tiger Woods is still the most popular golfer on the planet. The entire nation condemned LeBron for the Decision, only to collectively forgive him when he started winning titles. We like our winners.
There’s nothing wrong with that. The reason we play these games is to determine a winner and a loser, and the teams with more talent usually end up winning. Fournette makes it that much more likely that LSU wins games, and that makes me happy. And let’s face it, he’s an easy kid to root for. He’s not just insanely talented, but he seems to have his head screwed on right.
Patrick Peterson is probably the most talented football player to play for LSU in the past decade. He was virtually a professional player killing time in college. Like everyone, I kneel before Zod. But Tyrann Mathieu was infinitely more interesting. Peterson was a cold-blooded killing machine, Mathieu was an agent of chaos. NICKNAME REDACTED speaks to just how tumultuous his brief time in Baton Rouge was. It’s a personal thing, but I root for Interesting over Greatness (though both players were both of these things, the scales just tipped in one direction).
Besides, my favorite player off of that insanely great defense was Brandon Taylor. Every great team has great players, but great programs need guys like Brandon Taylor who quietly hold the whole thing together. Mathieu could freelance and make those spectacular plays because he had that security blanket behind him, covering up every hole. I love that.
I’m rooting real hard that Leonard Fournette is every bit as good as the hype. I hope he rushes for a first down on every single carry, or at the very least clears the century mark. I want to see an LSU player in New York when they announce the Heisman Trophy and feel like he has a real chance at winning it. I want Greatness from him, and I really do believe he can attain it. There’s a reason we’re churning out so much content on the guy. We’re all excited by the possibilities of his near limitless potential.
Terrence Magee has never started a game for LSU. In his sophomore year, he only received one carry all season. He was stopped for no gain. In a crowded LSU backfield, he’s always been the odd man out.
Magee was a big time recruit and a member of the Super Dozen. However, he was a high school quarterback who had to change position in order to see the field at the next level. He arrived on campus and immediately got to work at becoming a running back. The next season, he spent fall camp working out with the wide receivers because that is what the coaches asked, and what the team needed. The next season, he was back with the running backs, his third consecutive season in which he changed positions.
He slowly climbed up the depth chart last season, going from odd man out to a vital part of the attack. Magee cleared 100 yards for the first time in his career against an SEC opponent in the eleventh game of his junior season, gaining 149 yards on 13 carries against Texas A&M. It was only the second time all season he had more than 10 carries.
By season’s end, Magee owned the highest yards per carry in the LSU backfield. After Jeremy Hill left for the pros along with almost all of the team’s offensive production, Magee took it upon himself to lead by example. He earned the Alvin Roy Fourth Quarter Award and the Eric Andolsek Leadership Award for his dedication in the offseason and performance in spring drills.
Leonard Fournette might be the team’s best offensive player (though La’El Collins probably would like to have a few words with you about that), but make no mistake: this is Terrence Magee’s team. He is the guy who owns the room, and he is the player that everyone else looks up to. This isn’t some courtesy award, Terrence Magee is the personification of what the #18 jersey stands for. He is the offensive version of Brandon Taylor, the responsible adult who gives everyone else the security to go off and freelance.
The team voted this weekend, in one of the least surprising results ever, that Terrence Magee will wear the vaunted #18 jersey. This team looks up to Magee, a guy who has done everything and more asked of him for the program. He hasn't asked to be the team's leader, he's demanded it.
At SEC Media Days, Terrence Magee took to the podium and he talked about, what else? Leonard Fournette. He said that while Hill was a great player, Fournette could be the greatest running back in LSU history. Magee took his moment in the spotlight, and he directed at a guy who doesn’t need any more praise…
Unless it was the praise of Terrence Magee.
When you look at the Tiger Stadium crowd this season, you’ll see a lot of #7 jerseys and Buga Nation t-shirts. Fournette is going to be a great player, and maybe THE great player of this era. That’s a guy who is easy to turn into your hero.
Leonard Fournette’s hero is Terrence Magee. He’s mine, too. Great talent is important, but give me the number 18. Fournette’s legend is to come, but Magee’s is now secure. This is his team, this is his time. This is my favorite player.