Star Running Backs Christian McCaffrey And Leonard Fournette To Skip Bowl Games
Two of college football’s best running backs have decided not to play in their teams’ upcoming bowl games in preparation for the NFL draft.
LSU’s Leonard Fournette announced his decision to sit for the Citrus Bowl against Louisville on December 31 at a news conference Friday. On Monday, Stanford’s Christian McCaffrey announced his decision to sit out during the Sun Bowl against North Carolina in a tweet.
— Christian McCaffrey (@CMccaffrey5) December 19, 2016
Both Fournette and McCaffrey had previously announced their decisions to enter the 2017 NFL draft, passing up on their respective senior seasons.
Each of the two running backs had record-setting careers at their respective universities in just three years. Their decisions to sit for the post-season bowls likely won’t have much of an effect on their draft stock and is seen as a smart move by many.
Fournette has been battling an ankle injury all season and said in the news conference during his announcement that it’s about “85 to 90” percent healed.
“I want to thank Coach O and LSU for the decision, not letting me play,” Fournette said. “It’s best for my future. I want to thank LSU overall for the best experience I’ve had. It’s a hurtful feeling we had the season that we had. I didn’t get the opportunity to play to my full potential.”
Despite Fournette’s ankle injury, he still had an impressive season. The LSU running back rushed for 843 yards on the season with eight touchdowns in just seven games. He is projected to go in the top ten picks of the upcoming NFL draft. Further injuring his ankle could change that drastically, whereas having a great bowl game performance wouldn’t do much.
Although McCaffrey isn’t injured like Fournette, he doesn’t want to risk an injury in the game against UNC. The Stanford running back broke Barry Sanders’s single-season all-purpose yards record with 3,684 yards in his 2015 season. This season he wasn’t quite that impressive, but still recorded more all-purpose yards than any other player in the NCAA with 2,327.
Although the two players’ decisions will likely upset fans, especially those who have paid loads of money to go see them play in their last college games, it is a smart business move for both players.