The guy replacing Jeremy Hill at LSU is a straight-up beast
JAN 13, 2014 2:20p ET
Jeremy Hill played in 12 of LSU’s 13 games during the 2013 season – he missed the season-opener against TCU because of a suspension – and for the most part was an invaluable force in the Tigers’ offense.
He rushed for 1,401 yards and 16 touchdowns, with 184 of those yards and three of those TDs coming in a 35-21 win against Auburn, the only regular-season loss for Gus Malzahn’s Tigers.
His 6.9 yards-per-carry average ranked 22nd in the nation and first among SEC backs with at least 100 attempts (Hill had 203).
Hill was an exceptional contributor for the Tigers in 2013, and so it was a loss when he declared for the NFL Draft on Monday.
Here’s Hill’s announcement, via Twitter:
I am a Tiger for life. I will forever be grateful to my LSU fans, friends, coaches and family. This decision has been very difficult for me.— Jeremy Hill (@JeremyHill33) January 13, 2014
The idea of Hill returning to Baton Rouge for a redshirt junior season was particularly important considering quarterback Zach Mettenberger has exhausted his eligibility and moving into his place will be sophomore Anthony Jennings.
Jennings played only one full game in 2013 – his subpar Outback Bowl against Iowa, in which he was 7 of 19 for 82 yards with zero touchdowns and one interception – but he sparked the LSU fan base when Mettenberger hurt his knee against Arkansas in the regular-season finale and Jennings immediately drove the Tigers 99 yards for a go-ahead touchdown. Having Hill to ease Jennings into the offense full-time would have been a luxury.
The good news? Take a look at the guy who’s replacing Hill:
That’s Leonard Fournette, a five-star running back recruit and the top recruit at his position in the class of 2014.
He’s listed at 6-foot-1 and 226 pounds – which, going by public measurements, would make him the same height as Adrian Peterson and nine pounds heavier – and has nimble feet for a man his size. You wouldn’t call his speed “elite,” necessarily, but it’s enough to out-run many defensive backs at the college level.
Perhaps most impressive is Fournette’s cutting ability and elusiveness, given he’s packaged and sold as a power back whose best work is done when headed in one direction: north.
The highlights above are from his senior high school season. This is his junior-year reel, and it’s absurd:
Fortunately for Fournette, he’s not the only running back LSU will depend on to help Jennings in 2014. Terrence Magee, who averaged 7.3 yards per carry on 86 attempts (626 total yards) with eight touchdowns in 2013, will return as a senior, as will fellow senior Kenny Hilliard (4.6 yards per carry, seven TDs in 2013). Another incoming freshman, Darrel Williams, might also carve out a role.
Any combination of those other three will limit the total number of hits Fournette takes and prevent him from being ridden in a solo-back system like Arizona’s Ka’Deem Carey and Boston College's Andre Williams (among others) were last season.
Yes, losing Hill is an actual loss for LSU, but having Fournette coming to campus has already begun to soften the blow.
Teddy Mitrosilis writes and edits college football for FOXSports.com. Follow him on Twitter and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.