Last week, Jacksonville Jaguars rookie Leonard Fournette caused a stir when he said transitioning to the NFL was very easy because he played in the SEC. He added that the speed of the players in the conference helped him get ready for the NFL. If you want to bet on the Jaguars this season, check out our sports betting sites.
As expected, when Fournette made the statement, there were a lot of people attacking him considering he had only played in one preseason game and averaged less than four yards per carry, which to be honest isn’t very good.
While Fournette’s critics had a valid point, some of his teammates and former SEC players quickly jumped to his defense.
T.J. Yeldon, who played three years at Alabama, said he felt Fournette was kind of right. Yeldon said playing in the SEC is similar to playing in the NFL, but admitted the NFL was a little bit faster. Since Yeldon is in his third year in the NFL, he has experienced just how fast the league is. However, critics found it amusing that a player that dominated in the SEC, has a combined 1,200 yards and three touchdowns in two seasons in the NFL.
Cam Robinson, the Jaguars rookie offensive tackle out of Alabama, agreed with Fournette as well. Robinson said his games against big name SEC teams like Auburn, LSU, and Florida, helped his transition to the NFL.
Even Corey Grant, a running back that played for both Alabama and Auburn but went undrafted, said playing in the SEC made a big difference in his transition to the NFL. Grant didn’t get any playing time in his rookie season and gained two yards on six carries as a pro.
Grant called the SEC a hard-nosed league. He also credited the other conferences like the Pac-12, Big Ten, and ACC for having talented players, but said the SEC stands out above the rest, which is why a lot of guys that played in the SEC come into the NFL and have an immediate impact.
While Grant has a point about SEC players that have made immediate impacts for their clubs. Guys like Odell Beckham Jr., Amari Cooper, and Julio Jones come to mind. There are also a lot of SEC players that dominated in college but never amounted to much in the NFL.
Players like Trent Richardson, Jamarcus Russell, Johnny Manziel, and Dee Milliner come to mind.
Despite his assertions about the SEC, Grant said Fournette should have chosen his words better. Instead of saying the adjustment was easy, Grant said Fournette should have said it wasn’t as tough as he thought it was going to be.
In my opinion, I understand coming to your teammate’s defense, but the Jaguars that spoke up in defense of Fournette don’t carry the type of weight to do so. None of Fournette’s teammates that defended the SEC has done anything of merit in the NFL and might actually be out of the league very soon.
The bottom line is it doesn’t matter what conference or team you play for in college, what matters is the preparation you bring on the field. Players like Jerry Rice, Calvin Johnson, and many others didn’t rely on the prestige of the conference they played in, they worked hard and their dedication paid off on the field.