LSU left tackle La’el Collins is “wrestling” with the decision to turn pro, a source said Wednesday, and running back Jeremy Hill will return for his junior season, according to a report Tuesday night.
The Advocate reported Monday night that Hill was leaning toward bypassing the NFL draft and returning for his junior season. USA Today reported Tuesday that Hill has decided to return to LSU next year.
Sources could not confirm that Hill had made a final decision, but all signs continue to point to him returning for his junior season.
Hill, draft-eligible as a sophomore because he did not play his true freshman season, could announce his decision as early as Friday, a source said.
Collins, projected as high as a second-round draft choice, is “wrestling” with his decision, a source said. Hill is trying to convince Collins, a close friend and former Redemptorist High teammate, to return for his junior season. Hill is doing the same with right guard Trai Turner, a draft-eligible sophomore, who has joined Athletes’ Performance, a company that trains athletes for the NFL draft.
Underclassmen must declare by Jan. 15.
Hill is ranked as the eighth-best running back in this year’s draft and was projected to be selected in the third round, according to CBSSports.com.
His off-the-field issues – two arrests – may hinder the running back’s chances for a higher draft selection this year, said Rob Rang, analyst for CBSSports.com.
Another good season and a year-plus buffer between Hill’s latest arrest would only improve his draft stock, Rang said.
Coach Les Miles reinstated Hill to the team in August after suspending him in April following an altercation outside of a Baton Rouge bar. Hill is seen punching a man in the bar parking lot, a video of which was uploaded to the internet.
The incident violated Hill’s previous probation. In January of 2012, Hill pleaded guilty to misdemeanor carnal knowledge of a 14-year old.
Hill is likely to be LSU’s primary offensive weapon next year.
The Tigers will have a new starting quarterback and are likely losing their top two receivers in Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr., two juniors who are reportedly declaring early for the draft.
Beckham and Landry are expected to announce their decisions soon, a source said.
Hill and Miles met Monday and Miles met with Turner and Collins on Sunday, team spokesman Michael Bonnette confirmed to The Advocate on Tuesday.
Defensive tackles Anthony Johnson and Ego Ferguson have both announced their intentions to declare for the draft.
If Hill does decide to return for 2014, he could be joined in the backfield by Terrance Magee, LSU’s second-leading rusher last season, and St. Augustine running back Leonard Fournette, a recent LSU commitment ranked as the nation’s No. 1 prospect.
Most feel Hill’s decision won’t affect Fournette’s commitment.
“I haven’t talked to anybody who said it would,” said Sonny Shipp, lead recruiting analyst for Geaux247 of 24/7 Sports. “LSU always uses two backs. If Jeremy does come back, he’s going to be there for one year. Still two years where Leonard could be the bell cow.”