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LSU’s top rusher makes headlines in good and bad ways

[ 0 ] December 17, 2013 |

IOWA CITY, Ia. – He stands 6-feet-2 and weighs 235 pounds.

He averages 7.1 yards every time he touches a football.

And he’ll be a featured performer when 14th-ranked Louisiana State (9-3) meets Iowa (8-4) at the Jan. 1 Outback Bowl, in Tampa, Fla.

So you better get to know Jeremy Hill, the Tigers’ sophomore tailback and hometown star, who emerged from an offseason of turmoil to become an offensive catalyst.

“He’s a power back, but still has speed as well,” Hawkeye linebacker Christian Kirksey said. “We’ve just got to be ready for him and play Iowa defense, and we’ll be fine.”

Jeremy Hill (USA Today Sports photo)

Jeremy Hill (USA Today Sports photo)

It’s a simple approach for one of the most talked-about players in the Southeastern Conference.

Hill, a native of Baton Rouge, La., has rushed for 1,185 yards (averaging 6.8 per carry) and caught 18 passes for another 181 yards (10.1 per reception).

He’s the primary reason LSU rushed for 200.8 yards per game this season, which ranks 35th in the Football Bowl Subdivision.

“We’ve just got to be ready up front,” said Anthony Hitchens, another Iowa linebacker. “And then filling in and making the tackles when you have the chance.”

Earlier this year, it seemed Hill’s college career would be brought down by off-field issues.

He was suspended for three months after punching a fellow student outside a bar in April.

He also faced up to six months in jail after violating probation, stemming from a 2012 case in which he pleaded guilty to carnal knowledge of a minor, according to local newspaper accounts.

LSU coach Les Miles reinstated Hill in July, following a team meeting.

“There was some interplay and conversation, and they voted to invite him back,” Miles told reporters. “He owes this school, this team and this community his best behavior.

“We’ll bring him back to practice. We’re not certain about the further punishment, but there will be some.”

Hill’s return to the Tigers’ brought national scrutiny.

Dennis Dodd of CBSSports.com wrote: “Maybe we’re all immune these days. Maybe we shouldn’t care about a couple of misdemeanors that have been adjudicated. A star is back on the field, get over it.

“Still … None of it reflects well on Miles, LSU and the SEC. … Think if Hill were your son or — worse — the victim of that blow.”

Hill was forced to sit out the first five quarters of the season, including the opener against Texas Christian.

He ran just six times for 50 yards in a Week 2 win over Alabama-Birmingham, but hit his stride Sept. 14 against Kent State.

He finished with 117 yards on 11 carries, including a 58-yard touchdown.

“We knew what they were going to run,” Kent State defensive back Jordan Italiano told reporters. “They obviously weren’t trying to hide anything.”

The Tigers boast a balanced offense with two 1,000-yard receivers — Jarvis Landry (75 catches for 1,172 yards) and Odell Beckham Jr. (57 for 1,117) — but quarterback Zach Mettenberger is out with a knee injury.

With true freshman Anthony Jennings starting under center, Hill is likely to become even more of a focal point.

“The Hill guy, he can run,” Kirksey said. “But we don’t want to pay attention only to the run, because they do have two weapons on the outside.

“They’re a great team.”

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Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football

About Andrew Logue: Andrew has been with the Des Moines Register for 19 years, covering everything from preps to Hawkeye and Cyclone sports, as well as the Drake Relays. View author profile.

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