Les Miles is keeping TCU guessing about whether LSU running back Jeremy Hill, the Tigers’ leading rusher last season, will play in Saturday night’s season opener.
The Tigers’ coach said Monday that Hill will miss some playing time because of his arrest in late April. However, Miles is not specifying when Hill might serve that punishment, or how long the duration might be.
”Jeremy Hill is going to sustain discipline,” Miles said. ”We said earlier that … he would be withheld from play. That’s going to take place. Our discipline will be internal at this point, and I don’t think we have much further to say.”
Asked whether Hill would travel to Dallas for No. 12 LSU’s matchup with the 20th-ranked Horned Frogs, Miles remained vague.
”We’re not going to comment on that at this point, but I wouldn’t be surprised that he would be on our trip,” the coach said.
When a reporter, asking for clarification, pointed out that Miles did not offer any details about the length or timing of Hill’s benching, Miles interjected, ”Nor will I. … Again, the discipline will be internal, (it) will be something that we will deal with as a team. No further comment.”
The 20-year-old Hill pleaded guilty in July to misdemeanor battery in connection with a punch he threw outside a bar last spring – an incident caught on video by a mobile phone.
Hill was re-instated to the team in early August after a judge ruled the running back could remain on probation – with new restrictions – even though he’d violated his probation for an earlier misdemeanor plea stemming from a sexual relationship with a 14-year-old girl while Hill was in high school.
That first plea deal allowed Hill to enroll at LSU in 2012, when he rushed for 755 yards and 12 touchdowns. Hill emerged as the Tigers’ top running back after starter Alfred Blue went down with a season-ending injury in the third game.
Blue has returned this season, as has junior running back Kenny Hilliard. Blue noted Monday that Miles gave LSU players a vote on whether Hill should be reinstated, and that the team supported Hill’s return.
”As a teammate, I want Jeremy to play,” Blue said. ”I think the team feels the same way. We voted him back and I think everybody deserves a second chance.”
Hill is one of two players who are expected to play for LSU this season while on probation. Last week, freshman defensive back Ricky Jefferson pleaded guilty to misdemeanor resisting arrest and also received two years’ probation. That stemmed from his scuffle with a plain-clothes Jefferson Parish sheriff’s investigator at a suburban New Orleans Mardi Gras parade last winter, while Jefferson was still in high school.
Jefferson, who has not been disciplined for the arrest that occurred before he enrolled at LSU, is expected to play for the Tigers as a freshman, though how prominent his role will be remains to be seen.
Meanwhile, there is little question that the 6-foot-2, 235-pound Hill can be a major producer for LSU’s offense. In his first career start against eventual national champions Alabama last season, Hill rushed for 107 yards and a score as the Tigers nearly upset the Crimson Tide, who allowed only 76.4 yards rushing per game all season.
Blue is only one of a number of teammates who say they won’t have a problem with Hill getting on the field for the opener.
”I just know that when he was reinstated, coach Miles left it up to the team,” receiver Jarvis Landry said. ”As a team, we decided to have Jeremy back. Whether he plays in the first game or not, it’s great to have him out here competing and getting guys around him better. His legal situation is handled. It’s over, and we’re just going to leave it that way.”
Notes: Miles said he expects ”good news” soon from the NCAA concerning the academic eligibility of freshman defensive back Rashard Robinson, a highly rated recruit from Pompano Beach, Fla. Robinson has not been able to practice this August while his eligibility has been in doubt. … Miles also confirmed earlier reports that offensive guard Josh Williford won’t play this season. Williford, who missed much of last season with a concussion, had another early in August camp and had not practiced since. Miles said he’ll serve a role similar to a student assistant this season.