Jalen Mills was in line to become a starting safety for the LSU Tigers this spring before an off-field incident resulted in an indefinite suspension for the junior defensive back. Back in June, Mills was arrested for allegedly punching a woman and knocking her unconscious. After a downgraded charge from second-degree battery, a felony, to simple battery, a misdemeanor, on Monday, Les Miles has reinstated Mills to the Tiger roster. While he still likely has some internal punishment to face from the team, Mills’ return gives LSU an even stronger secondary for 2014.
As a sophomore in 2013, Mills showed that he was a key piece of the Tiger defense. He finished third on the team with 67 tackles while recording four tackles for loss, three sacks, three interceptions and three passes broken up. The 6-foot-1, 189-pound playmaker figured to be a prominent feature of the defense this season working through spring practices but started fall camp working with the second team after missing all of the team activities over the summer while serving his suspension.
In his place, Ronald Martin and Corey Thompson worked as the first-team safeties to start camp and that could very likely be the combination that LSU goes with to start the season. Miles has said that Mills will face “internal” punishment for the altercation, which could include a game-suspension for the season-opener against the Wisconsin Badgers. Last summer, running back Jeremy Hill pleaded guilty to a simple battery charge and was suspended for the 2013 season opener against the TCU Horned Frogs and did not play the first quarter of LSU’s second game against the UAB Blazers.
Mills is likely in line for a similar punishment from Miles but that won’t diminish his importance to the defense over the course of the season. Much like Hill came back and ended up leading the LSU rushing attack in 2013, Mills will ultimately emerge as a defensive leader for this Tigers team in 2014. It’s a long season and LSU has high expectations. Will the reinstatement of Jalen Mills help the Tigers reach the top of the SEC this fall?