Embattled LSU running back Jeremy Hill was charged with misdemeanor simple battery on Monday evening after his involvement in a fight in a bar parking lot Apr. 27, and the Tigers may be without their leading rusher in 2013.
Hill was suspended indefinitely after the arrest and the LSU spokesperson Michael Bonnette said, “We’re letting the legal system run its course.” This is not the first run-in with the law for Hill who is currently on probation for a Jan. 2011 arrest for carnal knowledge of a juvenile at Redemptorist High in Baton Rouge.
After Alfred Blue suffered a season-ending ACL injury in week three, Hill assumed the role of the feature back in the Tigers offense and finished with 755 yards and 12 touchdowns. What’s even more remarkable is that he essentially did this all in the last seven weeks when he had four 100-yard games.
In the past, we have seen Les Miles kick star players off his team after not living up to the standards expected of an LSU football player when he booted Heisman finalist Tyrann Mathieu for repeated failed drug tests. Former quarterback Jordan Jefferson had a similar run-in with a bar fight but returned to the team after his suspension.
According to a number of reports, the most damming evidence in the defense of Hill is the existence of a video of the incident that shows Hill punching the victim in the ear from behind and celebrating with a high-five. Innocent until proven guilty is for the court system, but in the court of public opinion, this looks like an open and shut case with Hill being found guilty.
Character counts, perhaps more than ever before in college and professional athletics, and he can’t give Hill a slap on the wrist and suspend him for a few games. I don’t believe Miles can justify keeping him on the roster no matter how talented he is if Hill is found guilty of this misdemeanor charge.
I expect his last game as a member of the LSU football team would have been the Chick-fil-A Bowl loss vs. Clemson. Hill was a monster in that bowl game, rushing for 10.3 yards per carry on 12 carries and had a 57-yard touchdown. It was his performance in that game and down the stretch that had many around the SEC thinking he had as much talent as the Georgia duo of Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall and Alabama rising sophomore T.J. Yeldon.
Blue was held out of the Tigers spring game and scrimmages as a preventative measure as he looks to regain the starting job in 2013. At 6-foot-2 and 220 pounds, Blue has the size to run between the tackles but is also fast enough to get to the perimeter and take runs to the house. Kenny Hilliard and Terrance Magee will be counted on stepping up and providing depth if Hill is kicked off the team or suspended for any length of time.
I hate to see great talents like Hill squash their potential and throw away an opportunity as great as playing for LSU, but I fear this is another case of wasted potential and LSU may have seen the last of Hill.