Sunday, August 4, 2013
LSU Tigers report to camp, minus two
By Gary Laney
BATON ROUGE, La. -- By the time morning turned to afternoon on Sunday, 103 LSU football players had reported to campus to start August camp on Monday. What was notable was who wasn't there.
The Tigers roster will begin August two short of the maximum number allowed by the NCAA because of the absence of two players -- running back Jeremy Hill, suspended from the team indefinitely after he violated the terms of his probation by punching somebody outside a bar, and cornerback Rashard Robinson, who is dealing with NCAA Clearinghouse issues.
They aren't the only losses on Sunday for the LSU program. Early Sunday morning, ESPN 3oo cornerback Chris Hardeman (Houston/Alief Taylor) tweeted his decommitment from the Tigers.
Here's a closer look at the three:
The future is uncertain for LSU's top running back in 2012, sophomore Jeremy Hill.
Hill still suspended: It wasn't news that Hill was not among the players to report. LSU's leading rusher as a freshman last season, Hill has been suspended indefinitely from the team since he was arrested after sucker-punching somebody in a bar fight in April.
That may seem innocuous enough, but given that Hill was already on probation for carnal knowledge of a juvenile for an incident that happened while he was a star player at Baton Rouge's Redemptorist High, the sophomore begins August with his future still very much in doubt.
The key date to remember is Aug. 16 when Hill has a hearing on his probation. A judge will decide whether to revoke Hill's probation and send him to jail. The ruling from that hearing will likely set the tone for how LSU approaches his punishment.
Hill's absence leaves LSU with three scholarship running backs. Asked about how the Tigers will handle the depth situation, head coach Les Miles joked about moving defensive linemen to running back, then admitted he wasn't sure how the Tigers will handle the short-handed position.
He said it was possible LSU might look at players from other positions at running back, but also added that they are comfortable with the trio of Kenny Hilliard, Alfred Blue and Terrence Magee, as long as the three stay healthy.
Robinson trying to get eligible: The absence of Robinson (Pompano Beach, Fla./Ely) is a potential long-range concern for the Tigers and may also alter perceptions of the Tigers' secondary in the short term.
The 6-foot-3 Robinson is a player many thought could push for playing time as LSU's big cornerback, a role that has become vital as SEC teams have gone to more big receivers.
Patrick Peterson played that role (among many others) during his LSU days, then Tharold Simon was that guy for the last couple of years. Sophomore Jalen Collins has the size to be the big corner after playing the nickel role last season.
Many thought Robinson might have the talent to contend with Collins for that role. But by not making it to Baton Rouge for summer workouts, Robinson missed a chance to add needed bulk to his slight frame (he weighed around 165 pounds last season).
There remains optimism that he'll be cleared and will join the team sometime this August. But the more time he misses, the less likely it becomes that he'll make a quick impact.
Hardeman re-opens recruitment: LSU appears to have soured on Hardeman for exactly the reason why the Tigers want Robinson. Since Hardeman committed to LSU back in July 2012, LSU has drifted more in the direction of bigger corners. The 5-9 Hardeman simply may not fit the mold anymore.
LSU has since taken a commitment from 6-1 safety/cornerback hybrid John Battle IV (Hallandale Beach, Fla./Hallandale) and has the option of moving 6-2 wide receiver commitment D.J. Chark (Alexandria, La./Alexandria) to cornerback. LSU is also entertaining taking a commitment from 6-2 Santos Ramirez (Shreveport, La./Evangel).
LSU has also taken a commitment from 6-foot, 200-pound ESPN 300 safety Edward Paris Jr. (Arlington, Texas/Mansfield Timberview) as a cornerback and not a safety.