The recruiting world knew about Fournette years before he signed.

Garrett stood 6’4.5 and 240 pounds, yet he looked almost skinny, clearly having room to add a good 25-plus pounds to his frame. He was an excellent pass rusher with good speed off the edge. Right away this looked special, because most high school speed rushers are typically lighter. That Garrett could rush off the edge with burst, play the run with power, and had the room to continue to grow was an elite combination. And since he was not overaged like many prospects are (Garrett did not turn 18 until after Christmas of his senior season), it suggested he had good potential for future growth.

Garrett also seemed smart for a high schooler. I could hold a conversation with him, as opposed to an awkward interview. And he was coachable, the staff at the Under Armour All-America Game told me.

The recruiting world knew about Fournette years before he signed. Watching him run, his style and balance reminded me of a bigger, faster Willis McGahee (before McGahee’s gruesome knee injury, of course). He was widely considered the best running back in a 2014 recruiting class that also featured Dalvin Cook, Nick Chubb, Sony Michel, Joe Mixon, Royce Freeman, Elijah Hood, Christian McCaffrey, Samaje Perine, and more.

Pierce had his moments in those other stops, particularly in Washington, where he helped guide the young Wizards while raining down clutch shots during the postseason. His season with the Wizards was memorable in that he finally reached the age where he gave exactly zero f–ks.

He gave hilariously cranky interviews where he ripped old teammates Cheap Team Baseball Jerseys and trashed upcoming opponents. He couldn’t figure out social media to save his life, but always managed to post charmingly corny photos dressed up for Halloween or a Kansas NCAA Tournament run. The further he was removed from Boston, Pierce became oddly endearing to the rest of the country.

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