TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Alabama coach Nick Saban remembers recruiting Leonard Fournette.
Like every other major program, Saban wanted the consensus top running back of the 2014 cycle to come to his town and play for his program.
Saban, who has coached for more than 43 years, remembers thinking Fournette was "absolutely one of the best running backs that we've ever seen."
"It's no surprise to me that the guy has developed into one of the premier players in the country and arguably the best running back in the country," Saban said. "His competitive character certainly shows on the field in terms of the way he plays and the way he competes. I have nothing but admiration and respect for the guy in terms of what he's accomplished, what he's done and the kind of player he is."
Saban didn't land Fournette, whom he believes to be as "dominant as any player in the country." The New Orleans, La. native picked LSU and has become one of the biggest stars in all of college football. The sophomore standout leads the nation in rushing yards (1,352), yards per game (193.14) and is second in the country with 15 touchdowns despite having one less game with LSU having to cancel its opener due to weather.
Fournette has rushed for at least 150 yards in every game this season.
No. 7 Alabama (7-1, 4-1 SEC) and its defense gets a shot at Fournette and No. 4 LSU (7-0, 4-0) on Saturday in Bryant-Denny Stadium.
"If you don't wrap up, he'll go all day on you," Tide linebacker Reggie Ragland said of Fournette. "Guys have to run to the ball and wrap up on him. We're going to see what type of guys we got, and what type of guys they got. It's all about wrapping up when you get to him because a lot of guys don't."
While Saban wasn't able to secure Fournette's signature, he did bring in another five-star running back the previous year who'll be the other star in Saturday's contest.
Tide running back Derrick Henry has carried Alabama's offense with 1,044 yards and 14 touchdowns.
"He's a very good back. He's big and strong," LSU coach Les Miles told reporters on Monday according to the school's official website. "He's going to be somebody our
defense is going to have to focus on and make sure that there's some helmets around him."
Fournette stands 6-foot-1 and weighs 230 pounds. Henry is a little bigger at 6-foot-3, 242 pounds. Saban, who typically avoids comparing players, broke down each player's game.
"Leonard is fast, quick, very competitive the way he runs the ball, plays with a lot of toughness," Saban said. "Derrick is a taller, longer version of a lot of the same things, in terms of his competitive spirit. He's hard to tackle and does a nice job of executing not only when he has the ball but when he has to block and do other things. Both guys are outstanding players in their own way."
Any other year, Henry's numbers -- which include 130 yards per game -- would be the main story in the SEC and a bigger story nationally.
But Fournette's production has overshadowed what Henry has done. Fournette is at the top of pretty much every Heisman list.
Henry would never admit to being a bit overlooked as it's not in his workman-like personality. But that doesn't mean his teammates can't.
"He gets overshadowed for sure. The guy is a beast," Tide quarterback Jake Coker said. "And when you see him run on the field it's a lot different than seeing him on TV, I can tell you that. Because some of those plays when I see him just punish people, I'll just sit back there and (be like) 'God, I feel bad for that guy.'"