NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - It's no secret, Louisiana loves its football.
People live for Saturday nights in Tiger stadium. For LSU fans, it was like winning the lottery when running back Leonard Fournette, who hails from the halls of St. Augustine High School in New Orleans, verbally committed to LSU last month. It was then that he announced during a nationally televised game that he would take his talent for the next three or four years to LSU. But, he started off by saying he was headed to the "University of" - then paused - before saying LSU.
"I kind of wanted to scare everybody, you know, try to get them off their toes, so I think that worked out very good," explained Fournette. He said he talked with his parents for hours about what to do, and after his mother told him to pray on it, he decided on LSU.
It's official now. Fournette is headed 80 miles from home, west on Interstate 10, and he's bringing his Buga Nation message with him.
"It's (Buga) a word that just came out of the blue," said Fournette.
A few years ago, he explained it was something he rarely used, but recently he's made a bigger deal about Buga, and then, he said, "it just blew up!" From the streets of New Orleans' 7th Ward neighborhood where Fournette grew up, to St. Aug to LSU's campus and beyond, people of all ages, all walks of life, show support for Fournette and the Buga Nation. More than 18,000 people follow him on Twitter, and they're blowing up his account @_fournette with Buga tweets.
Some of those followers may not know the meaning behind Buga.
"They really don't know what they're talking about. They're just saying it," said Jermaine Roberts, a St. Augustine High School senior.
We searched an online dictionary for answers, but had zero luck. Fournette explained that Buga is the acronym for "being united generates attitude."
"I think he's bringing a message that's saying he's positive," said Rodrick Howard, a St. Augustine seventh-grader. With that answer, Howard was on the right track.
"Being real - you know, something everybody can do. Just be yourself. You don't have to pretend for nobody," said Fournette.
When he verbally committed to the Tigers in January, his parents stood beside him in Buga gear that included shirts, pants and caps sporting the now well-known message.
"It generated with the family," said Lory Fournette, Leonard's mother. "It's a family thing. Once you become unity as one, you can reach higher height in life."
Her son lives by Buga, and now it's contagious!
In December, LSU Head Coach Les Miles tweeted: "#Geaux Buga Nation!"
"I'm laughing the whole time. I'm thinking man, this man (Miles) is wild," laughed Fournette, who was excited his future coach wanted to make a connection with him through social media. Fournette told FOX 8 he even talked with Miles about the Buga Nation, and he said the Tigers coach was even a member. "You know, I kinda let him ease in," said Fournette.
At 19 years old, Fournette has become a sort of superstar, but stressed he doesn't see himself that way.
"I'm still Leonard Fournette, a teenager who's enjoying his teenage life," he said.
Fournette credits St. Aug for his strong discipline and his parents, Lory and Leonard, for a firm foundation. The older Fournettes plan to bring Buga Nation to Baton Rouge too. Besides bringing it, they've trademarked it.
While the Buga Nation grows, Fournette says he's ready to show LSU fans the speed they're used to seeing from him.
"The first game against Wisconsin when I score my touchdown, I'm telling you, when I score I'm gonna start from the 10-yard line and go into the end zone, holding up the 'B' (hand sign that represents Buga) for the crowd," said Fournette.
He's promised he'll keep it Buga and keep it real.