LSU running back Leonard Fournette, once considered the favorite to win this year's Heisman Trophy, ended up not making the list of finalists for the award, as his numbers cooled during the Tigers' three-game losing streak in the second half of the season.
He still leads the FBS in rushing yards per game (158.3), and is a finalist for the Doak Walker Award, which goes to college football's top running back. He acknowledged Wednesday some sore feelings about not being invited to New York as a Heisman finalist, but searched for a silver lining in NFL star rushers that didn't win the Heisman.
"Everybody was angry about the situation (not being a Heisman finalist), especially my teammates," Fournette told reporters, per the New Orleans Times-Picayune. "But like I told my coaches, my parents and the players on my team, everything happens for a reason. It is what it is. At the end of the day, the best running backs in the NFL didn't win the Heisman."
Well, if you're limiting the scope to recent history, which it seems as if Fournette was doing, he'd have a strong case. Just two of the past 15 Heisman winners were running backs (Mark Ingram in 2009; Reggie Bush (yes, we're counting him) in 2005). Ingram made the Pro Bowl last season and was having another very strong season before placed on injured reserve Wednesday. Bush has had some very nice seasons during his NFL career, but isn't in the elite ranks. The last NFL rushing leader who also was a Heisman winner? That was Ricky Williams in 2002.
If you look back deeper into history, there are plenty of NFL legends at running back that won the Heisman -- Barry Sanders, Marcus Allen, Tony Dorsett, Earl Campbell ... we could keep going, but you get the idea. They all happen to be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
But, plenty of other all-time greats at the position didn't win the award.
Failing to win the Heisman doesn't disqualify a player, regardless of the position, from achieving greatness as a pro, and it would be unbelievably foolish to suggest otherwise, but Fournette still has a ways to go before he gets a chance to prove himself at the next level. As a true sophomore, he won't have a chance to apply for early draft entry until 2017. He'll have at least one more shot at the Heisman, and whether he wins it or not, it'll say nothing about his pro potential.