Leonard Fournette to focus on NFL draft, won't play in Citrus Bowl

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Leonard Fournette's college career is over. (Getty)
Leonard Fournette’s college career is over. (Getty)

A potential showdown between Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson and LSU running back Leonard Fournette in the Citrus Bowl isn’t happening. Fournette announced Friday he wouldn’t be participating in the game and will instead shift his focus to preparing for the NFL draft.

Without Fournette, LSU’s primary running back will likely be Derrius Guice, who has 1,249 yards on 157 carries this season.

Fournette, who has already announced his intention to go pro, has been dealing with a lingering ankle injury all season. He’s rushed for 843 yards and eight touchdowns on just 129 carries this season in seven games — missing matchups vs. Jacksonville State, Missouri, Southern Miss and Texas A&M.

His decision to sit out the bowl game to prep for the NFL will undoubtedly spark a sequel to the offseason discussion if Fournette should have participated in the 2016 season in the first place after a sparkling sophomore season.

[Yahoo Sports College Bowl Pick’em is open: Make your picks here!]

Last season, Fournette ran for 1,953 yards and 22 touchdowns on 300 carries. And while his counting stats were down in 2016, his per-carry stats were not. Fournette averaged 6.5 yards a carry in 2015. And 6.5 yards a carry in 2016. Don’t try to let someone tell you that Fournette should have missed the season for solely for his professional hopes.

Fournette first injured his ankle in preseason practices and never was fully healthy. With months to prepare for the draft, there’s no reason to think he won’t be 100 percent for the 2017 season. And his draft stock shouldn’t suffer one bit. With the success of 2016 first-round pick Ezekiel Elliott, Fournette will be a likely high pick.

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Nick Bromberg is the assistant editor of Dr. Saturday on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at nickbromberg@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!