Scuffle compels Leonard Fournette to play vs. UF

A pre-game skirmish between LSU and Florida compelled Tigers RB Leonard Fournette, who is nursing a nagging ankle injury, to play in the Gators' 16-10 road win Saturday, despite reports that he would miss the contest.

Fournette, wearing sweats at the time during pre-game activities, got into an exchange with Florida defensive backs coach Torrian Gray and pushed Gray before the teams were separated. Players then went to the locker room and, according to the SEC Network, Fournette then went to LSU coach Ed Orgeron and asked to participate.

LSU coach Ed Orgeron confirmed that Fournette approached him after the scuffle and asked to play. Fournette was unavailable to reporters following the game.

LSU RB Derrius Guice got the start, along with most of the rushing action, but Fournette played briefly on LSU's first series and finished the game with 40 yards on 12 carries against a stifling UF defense. He came out of the game in the second half and did not return, as Guice served as LSU's primary rusher during a failed fourth-quarter comeback attempt. With the win, the Gators clinched the SEC East Division and will face Alabama in the SEC title game in two weeks in Atlanta.

The ankle injury has hampered Fournette all season, and he aggravated the injury against Arkansas last week.

Fournette initially injured his ankle in preseason practice and has missed action on and off throughout the season as a result. He's missed games this season against Jacksonville State, Missouri and Southern Miss. Despite the missed games, NFL.com analyst Lance Zierlein named Fournette the No. 7 player in the nation at the midseason point.

Fournette, arguably the nation's most talented rusher, will decide after the season whether to apply for early draft eligibility for the 2017 draft. For the season, the powerful 230-pound back has 843 yards on 129 carries in only seven games.

Follow Chase Goodbread on Twitter *@ChaseGoodbread*.

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