Less than 12 hours until the 2017 NFL Draft, yet despite the life-changing nature of the event, Leonard Fournette is incredibly calm. He doesn’t have a sense of what team will pick him yet; he’ll probably find out when his phone rings just before NFL commissioner Roger Goodell announces his name in Philadelphia, but he doesn’t seem to mind. Leonard Fournette is at peace.
“Whatever happens, happens,” he said by phone from Philly. “It’ll be easy for me [to relax].”
Fournette’s state of tranquility is even more remarkable given the constant chatter that has surrounded him since he showed up at the NFL Combine weighing 250 pounds, 15 pounds heavier than his playing weight at LSU. Analysts wondered aloud if he was out of shape, and their murmurs got louder when Fournette jumped a disappointing 32 inches in the Vertical test. But after running a 4.5 40-Yard Dash and shedding 12 pounds by his Pro Day, the noise quieted, and Fournette is back where he started: a dynamic and powerful running back worthy of a top-10 pick.
STACK caught up with Fournette as he awaits his fate to talk about the chaos of the pre-draft process, his NFL training and how his 2-year-old daughter keeps him sane.
STACK: We’re a day away from the NFL Draft. Has the pre-draft process been crazier than you imagined?
Leonard Fournette: It’s more hectic. I didn’t know prior to the draft you have to do all this traveling to go talk to these teams, go state-to-state and stuff like that. You wake up at 6 a.m. in the morning to go to the doctor [for a team physical]. After the doctor, from 7 a.m. to 11, meetings with all the coaches, special teams, pretty much anybody. Then you’re on a plane around 2, and you’re on to the next state.
A lot of attention has been paid to your weight. Are you a guy who loses weight pretty easily in-season?
Yeah, most definitely. In-season you’re running and still practicing, things you know you have to do to stay in shape. But I’ve been able to keep my weight down by balancing what I eat every day and every night.
How has your diet changed since you were in high school? And was it hard?
I’ve had to cut out cola drinks and stuff, McDonald’s, eating stuff like that. All that I had to cut out to try and keep my weight down. I’m not going to say it was hard for me, because it’s your job to be willing to do whatever for your body to be feeling great. So I’m not going to say it was hard.
I know you’ve been training at EXOS-Pensacola. What’s been your primary focus down there?
I was mainly focused on my speed. Getting faster overall, working on my technique, my burst, my acceleration, picking my knees up, getting my feet down faster, stuff like that.
And you’ve partnered with MET-RX to handle your pre- and post-workout needs?
Yeah, they know how to [help me] perform at a high level. The Big 100 protein bar is what I take during my workouts, pre-workout and post-workout. It helps me refuel, gives me more energy. It’s a good partnership, because when I’m doing my workouts I don’t feel sluggish or tired.
Did you work out a lot in high school? Or did training not become a focus until you landed at LSU?
Yeah, I always worked out, but when I got to LSU it was more advanced. There was a lot more stuff I had to know, technique-wise and things like that.
With the Draft so close, do you have any sense of what team might take you?
Man, I don’t know. But whoever picks me picks me, and I’ll be happy with that pick and start my career.
Finally, I know your 2-year-old daughter Lyric has had a huge impact on you. What’s this process been like having her at your side?
My daughter kept me focused in college. She kept me on the right path as far as right and wrong decisions. Every decision I’ve made is for her. It’s to protect her and her livelihood. I owe a lot to her because she kept me focused and on a narrow path. It means a lot to me for her to be up there with me and enjoy the experience with me. She really doesn’t know what’s going on. To people, I’m a football star but to her I’m just her dad.
Have you tried to give her some sense of the moment and what Draft night will mean for you?
She’s a child, you know, so, I didn’t tell her nothing. She’s going to be up there on the stage with me. It’s just for me to enjoy the moment with her. She’s getting big, so I’m just taking every moment in with her.