JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Jacksonville Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette doesn’t want to be known as a trendsetter.
Fournette was the first college player to skip a bowl game in 2016 when he announced he wouldn’t join LSU in the Citrus Bowl.
Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey did the same a few days later. Both high-profile players opted to forgo the postseason to protect their bodies in advance of the NFL draft.
Now, a year later, those kinds of decisions are becoming more popular.
Florida State standout safety Derwin James announced Tuesday he would not play in the Dec. 27 Independence Bowl against Southern Mississippi.
His decision followed several Texas players who chose to skip the Dec. 27 Texas Bowl against Missouri. Cornerback Holton Hill, safety DeShon Elliott, offensive lineman Connor Williams and running back Chris Warren won’t play while preparing for the draft.
“Everybody makes their own decisions, just like I made mine,” Fournette said Thursday. “They have a future. They have a family just like I did, so everybody’s their own man when it comes to that.”
Others could join them, especially since the decisions by Fournette and McCaffrey had no bearing on their draft stock. Fournette was the fourth overall pick, four spots ahead of McCaffrey.
It worked out well for Fournette, who battled an ankle injury throughout his junior season with the Tigers and felt he needed extra time to heal.
“For me, yeah,” Fournette said. “For the guys in college, I’m not saying follow behind me and not play in your bowl game. I did it because I was still hurting. I played the majority of my season hurt, and I felt like that was the best decision for my future, for my family.”
Fournette ranks seventh in the NFL with 822 yards rushing and is tied for ninth with eight total touchdowns.
McCaffrey has 1,005 all-purpose yards and six touchdowns.