Prior to the Outback Bowl I felt rather comfortable in stating that LSU running back Jeremy Hill was probably playing in his last game as a Tiger. After watching him run for a career-high 216 yards on 28 carries and two touchdowns to single-handedly carry the LSU offense past the Iowa Hawkeyes, he should be a lock to declare for the 2014 NFL draft.
The shelf life of a running back isn’t very long and teams will often discard you without a care in the world once you hit a certain age or after a certain workload. Just look at what happened to Emmitt Smith or LaDanian Tomlinson and how their Hall-of-Fame careers ended.
When you’re so good at something that people will pay you handsomely to do that thing, you’d be foolish to continue to do that thing for free, especially when one injury could end your career quicker than a lightning strike.
Hill has carried the ball 203 and 142 times in each of the past two seasons which is a pretty light workload all things considered. His 2,156 yards and 28 touchdowns are impressive stats to put on your resume and at 6-2, 235-pounds he brings the element of being able to run you over as well as run past you.
He won’t be a first round pick and he may not even be a second round pick based on the devaluing of running backs in the draft, but after what he’s done in the SEC the past two seasons and against the 21st rushing defense in the country in the Outback bowl, what else does he have to prove?
Whether he declared this year or next year, the NFL will ask him about his off-the-field behavior, but if you ask his coaches and teammates, Hill has matured greatly and changed as a person this season following an offseason arrest.
He’s always had the talent, now he has rehabbed his image and it’s time for him to cash in on his ability in the NFL while his stock has never been higher.