Every day here at Your Best 11, we are counting down to the start of the regular season with our top 150 players for the 2012 season.
No. 120: Kenny Hilliard, No. 27, LSU, Running Back
Many thought Kenny Hilliard would never even see the field for the LSU Tigers in 2011. After all, the Bayou Bengals had Spencer Ware, Michael Ford and Alfred Blue back for the season and ready to run the show.
However, Hilliard proved that he deserved his share of carries and, once he was in the game, he did not disappoint. He only put up 336 yards, but the freshman tied for the team lead in rushing touchdowns in 2011.
That backfield is still crowded, but Hilliard is among the nation's most talented running backs.
Hilliard is a great blend of speed, power, size and vision. The rising sophomore has a smooth running motion that makes him seem lighter on his feet than his 225-pound frame would indicate.
Even though he is a smooth runner who eases into and out of cuts effortlessly, Hilliard knows he has a size advantage when it comes to toting the football. He runs behind his pads well and takes the fight to the defense, daring them to tackle him as he bulls his way through arm tackles.
Simply put, if Kenny Hilliard was on your team, save for a small handful of squads around the nation, he'd be your starter without a problem. He's a heck of a ball player and just a sophomore in 2012 for the Tigers.
Not his fault, but his weakness will continue to be opportunity. He does not get second chances and thus, if he is not productive in his limited touches, he will be back on the bench watching Blue, Ford and Ware get the carries.
That's a tough spot to be in and while it is terrible for a player, it is a great weakness for a team. Hilliard won't get enough touches to make an All-SEC team.
Kenny Hilliard will again be fighting for carries in 2012. However, now that his coaches know he is a solid commodity, they do not have to fear inserting him into the game. Look for Hilliard to get more work in the short-yardage packages and as a reliable rushing threat when the Tigers are looking to grind it out and impose their will on the opposition.
While the rising sophomore will not hit the 1,000-yard mark, expect Hilliard's touches to push the 100 mark; remember, Jordan Jefferson is not stealing touches this season. If Hilliard can turn those 100-or-so carries to 600-700 yards, then that is a win for the Tigers.