LSU running back Jeremy Hill proved to be a wise man by entering the NFL draft.
Ross Dellenger of The Advocate reported last week Hill was leaning towards staying at LSU for another season. Hill came to his senses by making the right decision for his future, much like teammates Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr. did last week.
Hill proved to be one of the best backs in the country in 2013. He was voted All-SEC after a magnificent redshirt sophomore season.
Hill is a rare runner who can do a little bit of everything. He can powerfully blast past wimpy tacklers or shake defenders in the open field. The redshirt sophomore proved to be a man amongst boys this season.
Now it is time for Hill to play with real men on Sundays.
|Career LSU Rushing Statistics -- Jeremy Hill|
It was shocking Hill even contemplated his decision whether to go or stay.
Sure, Hill still owes an immense amount of gratitude to Les Miles and his teammates for letting him play this season after his poor offseason behavior and legal issues. But the star running back should not feel obligated to give the Tigers another season of his services in Baton Rouge.
Hill won games this season for LSU. He especially pushed the Tigers past Auburn, Iowa and Arkansas. That is more than enough repayment for Miles and his fellow Tigers. If Hill could not significantly help his team win, he would have been kicked off the team.
But that is not the only reason why Hill made the right decision by taking his talents to the NFL.
There Is Not Much More for Him to Accomplish
Hill has little else to prove at the college level. He has shown to be a productive workhorse running back over the course of a season. That is more than enough for an NFL franchise to take a chance on him.
Hill does have All-American potential. But it is unlikely he'd earn All-American honors, much less a trip to New York City for the Heisman, thanks to a diverse LSU playbook and deep roster. The Tigers will not win a national championship next year with a first-year starting quarterback and the loss of key receivers.
The Risk of Injury
Hill was probably reminded about former LSU running back Charles Scott, who led LSU in rushing en route to All-SEC honors in 2008. As a junior, Scott decided to come back to Baton Rouge for his senior season.
Scott started 2009 slowly. Once his play began to pick up, he suffered a broken collarbone against Alabama. His draft stock plummeted, and he was drafted in the sixth round.
Scott never registered an NFL carry.
Scott told the Associated Press his reasons for staying were his third-round draft grade and only being 30 hours away from graduating.
Stevan Ridley was in a near-identical position to Scott after his junior season. But Ridley left for the NFL instead of coming back for a senior season. He got drafted by the Patriots in 2011 and has had an excellent career for a third-round pick.
Bleacher Report draft analyst Matt Miller gave Hill a fourth-round draft grade, but that was before the redshirt sophomore shredded Iowa in the 2014 Outback Bowl. His sublime talent will not allow him to drop below the third round.
Hill could not take the risk of getting hurt, or else he could have been the next Scott.
The Short NFL Careers of Running Backs
Running backs in the NFL have short career life spans. Hill should not take on the wear and tear of SEC football for another season.
Hill would have help carrying the load if 5-star running back prospect Leonard Fournette honors his commitment and signs with LSU. But all it takes is one hit to end a career, and Hill knows this.
Also, the recent changes in the NFL Collective Bargaining Agreement have changed rookie contracts. The second contract is more important than the first, which could explain why so many underclassmen declare now. Hill should get to work now as a professional.
LSU Will Look Different Offensively
The Tigers will lose senior quarterback Zach Mettenberger. Junior receiving duo Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry are heading to the NFL. All three played key roles in the success of the LSU offense.
Hill rushed for a career high against Iowa without them being productive. Mettenberger did not play. Beckham Jr. and Landry combined for only 56 yards receiving.
But next season, defenses will be prepared to face an LSU offense that will not be as effective through the air. Running the football would become much more difficult, even for a sublime talent such as Hill.
Also, the distribution of carries could easily change. Fournette or a more heavily involved Terrence Magee could take more carries away from Hill than he could expect. No LSU running back under Miles has rushed for over 1,000 yards twice.
Hill is the best running back Miles has ever had. His combination of size, speed and strength surpasses that of Scott and Ridley.
Special talents like Hill are ready for the NFL now. He did what was right for him by getting his money now.
LSU will be hurt by the loss of Hill. But running back is one of the most replaceable positions in football. The Tigers will have Magee, and more than likely Fournette, to carry the load next season.
LSU fans should cherish the career of Hill and continue to cheer him on in his future. But nobody will celebrate more than LSU's opposing defenses next season.
Follow me on Twitter @CarterthePower.