Two numbers stand out more than any others on the LSU roster – 18 and 7.
Each preseason camp, the Tigers elect a player to inherit No. 18 as a sign of respect based on the character and leadership they have shown during their tenure with the Tigers.
The awarding of No. 7 is less ceremonial, but it generally winds up on the back of an elite playmaker, sending a message to LSU fans and opponents that this is someone who’s going to be an impact player.
When the LSU football program’s Twitter account tweeted out a picture of the newest No. 7 – wide receiver Jonathan Giles, a transfer from Texas Tech – with the inscription “Playmakers wear 7 at LSU,” a former Tigers No. 7 was quick to retweet it Sunday night.
“Everybody that wore 7 changed that program,” tweeted Jacksonville Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette, who wore No. 7 for the Tigers from 2014-16.
Everybody that wore 7 changed that program…… https://t.co/FZ3NkOahFt
— 7⃣ Leonard Fournette (@_fournette) August 6, 2018
Fournette, whose team opens the preseason against the New Orleans Saints on Thursday night, expanded on his numerology in a conference call with reporters from Louisiana on Monday.
“I know the history behind the number,” Fournette said. “I always felt at LSU, that No. 18 was the number. But No. 7 is the number for big-time playmakers from the program like myself, Patrick Peterson, Tyrann Mathieu. As I mentioned on Twitter, that number changes the program and there’s a lot to come for players wearing that number.”
Giles gained more than 1,000 yards receiving in two seasons with the Red Raiders and he’s expected to lead a talented but inexperienced group of wide receivers as LSU emphasizes the pass more this season.
Fournette said he hasn’t met Giles, but he’s confident he will be able to handle the responsibility that comes with inheriting the number from wide receiver D.J. Chark, who wore it last season and is now a teammate of Fournette’s in Jacksonville.
“There’s a lot of pressure for anyone who wears that number,” Fournette said. “Everyone expects big things from them. The way that LSU has been talking about him, he’s a playmaker that makes a lot of good plays. I hope he lives up to the expectations and I think he will and I think he can handle it.”
As for No. 18, it was awarded to senior tight end Foster Moreau, a teammate of Fournette’s from 2015-16. Fournette appreciates the significance of that number as well.
“It’s a big responsibility,” Fournette said. “It’s someone that, through the years, it’s about leadership, responsibility and courage. In spite of injury, you fight through adversity. Foster deserves that number because he has that character of the No. 18 and I feel like it’s a job well-done for him.”
Fournette said Moreau would show his leadership when he recognized that practice was “sluggish and lazy.”
“If you called and asked him,” Fournette said, “he’d say he’s a Fournette brother and it runs in his blood.”