By Casey Gisclair
As the 2015 football season approaches, the DIG Sports staff decided to take a look back at the best LSU players of the Les Miles era (2005-present). The Tigers have had 64 players drafted into the NFL with Miles at the helm, and the program led all schools with 38 former players on active NFL rosters during the opening weekend of the 2014 season.
No. 6 Jeremy Hill
Career Highlight: Hill was named the MVP of the 2014 Outback Bowl after gashing Iowa’s stout rushing defense for 216 yards and two touchdowns.
Eye-Popping Stat: Jeremy Hill had more career touchdowns (28) than he had college games played (24).
NFL draft: 2014 / Round: 2 / Pick: 55 / Cincinnati Bengals
It’s not easy to shine in a collegiate backfield that always seems to be loaded with two, three or even four Blue Chip players at the running back position.
LSU great Jeremy Hill made it work, and it took him just two years to establish himself as one of the best runners in the Les Miles Era.
Hill signed with the Tigers in the class of 2011 as a highly-touted four-star prospect, but some legal trouble kept him from joining the team full-time until 2012—his freshman season.
With an entire year to polish and tone his body, the Baton Rouge product was a ready-made commodity from day one at LSU.
As a freshman, the bruising, powerful runner eclipsed Spencer Ware, Kenny Hilliard and Michael Ford and became the Tigers’ No. 1 running back. Hill rushed a team-high 142 times in 2012, accumulating 755 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Hill improved as the year went on, using a strong work ethic in practice to move from the bottom of the crowded depth chart. As a freshman Hill earned only 13 carries and 71 yards in the Tigers’ first six games combined.
In the final seven games of the season, he accumulated 684 rushing yards with 10 touchdowns—getting the lion’s share of the reps in the closest games.
In Hill’s first SEC start, he led the Tigers past No. 3 South Carolina, rushing for 124 yards in the victory. A week later, Hill’s 127 yards helped power LSU past future Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Johnny Manziel and Texas A&M on the road.
For all of his great freshman accomplishments, it was Hill’s sophomore season that solidifies his place at the top.
After serving his suspension, the halfback pounced and was arguably the best in the nation. Hill rushed for 100 or more yards in seven games as a sophomore, scoring touchdowns in 10 of the 12 games that he played.
Hill ended his collegiate career with a bang, rushing for 145 yards and a touchdown in a 31-27 win against Arkansas. He parlayed that into a dominant Outback Bowl performance against Iowa in which he rushed for 216 yards, while getting 7.7 yards per carry.
After the 2013 season, Hill initially told reporters that he was going to return to LSU for his junior season—a decision that would have immediately made the halfback one of the front-runners for the Heisman Trophy in the 2014 season.
Hill eventually opted to enter the NFL Draft and was selected in the second round by the Cincinnati Bengals.
In Hill’s rookie season, he emulated his dominant performances from his days wearing Purple and Gold. Hill rushed for 1,124 yards as a rookie with nine touchdowns, and is considered by many as one of the best young halfbacks in the game.