HOOVER, A la . — For LSU, there was no getting through Southeastern Conference Media Days without discussing suspended running back Jeremy Hill and what coach Les Miles referred to as his “legal entanglement.”
Hill was suspended from the team in April after he was accused of punching a man outside a bar near the LSU campus. He pleaded guilty to simple battery last week, a misdemeanor charge complicated by the fact Hill violated the probation placed on him after he pleaded guilty in January 2012 to misdemeanor carnal knowledge of a juvenile from a 2011 arrest.
Hill faces an Aug. 16 hearing that could result in his probation being revoked and him serving as much as six months in jail.
“At this point in time, he remains indefinitely suspended,” Miles said Thursday. “I have a track record with really disciplining my team. We go through the same process that all of my guys will go through. We’re gathering information as we go. So he’s been separated from his team and teammates this summer. We’ll let you know when we know.”
Miles said he has visited with Hill on a regular basis but that Hill has not been allowed in the football facility. Wide receiver Jarvis Landry said he has spoken with Hill daily since his suspension.
“Jeremy is a personal friend of mine,” Landry said. “The mistake that he made is not in my hands to make a decision for. I leave that totally to the coaches.”
Landry said he hasn’t seen the video, released last week by the district attorney’s office, that shows Hill punching a man from behind during the April incident, but he did say the entire matter “took me down” because of his friendship with Hill.
“We’ve got to make better decisions on and off the field,” Landry said.
LSU safety Craig Loston said he spoke to Hill within “the last couple of days” but before that had only seen him while going to class this summer.
“He’s doing the right thing,” said Loston, who also said he hasn’t seen the video. “I just told him to keep working out and make sure you stay fit because you never know what could happen. Just stay ready.”
The Tigers were picked to finish third in the SEC’s Western Division by media voters.
LSU finished behind Alabama and Texas A&M but ahead of Ole Miss, Auburn, Mississippi State and Arkansas.
LSU picked up 1,324 voting points and seven first-place votes compared to 1,681 points and 225 first-place votes for Alabama. The Tigers finished narrowly behind the Aggies, who had 1,333 points and 11 first-place votes.
Georgia (1,570 points, 149 first-place votes) was picked to repeat as SEC East champion. The Bulldogs finished ahead of South Carolina (1,474 points, 75 first-place votes), Florida (1,300, 19), Vanderbilt, Tennessee, Missouri and Kentucky.
Three LSU players were first-team All-SEC selections: Loston, junior defensive tackle Anthony Johnson and junior receiver Odell Beckham Jr. Beckham was a first-team pick as a return specialist and a second-team selection as an all-purpose player. Linebacker Lamin Barrow joined him on the second team.
Five Tigers were named to the third team: senior tailback Alfred Blue, senior guard Josh Williford, junior tackle La’el Collins, senior linebacker Tahj Jones and sophomore cornerback Jalen Mills.
A dismissal from the Georgia football team eventually led Zach Mettenberger to be the starting quarterback at LSU, but Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray said the one-time roommates and rivals never could have co-existed until this season, their redshirt senior campaigns.
“Someone would have left,” he said.
The two clashed on and off the field before Mettenberger left in April 2010 for Butler (Kan.) Community College.
“Whether it was playing a video game or foosball or anything, competing for the same job, there were a lot of cutthroat moments,” Mettenberger said.
“We’d play (a soccer video game) and end up cussing each other out,” Murray said.
On Sept. 28, they will square off in Athens, where Mettenberger once dreamed of leading his team to victory.
“The dream has changed a little bit,” he said, “but I still get to live it.”
Blue was one of 63 players named as a candidate for the Doak Walker Award, an honor given to the nation’s top running back. Also on the watch list were Tulane senior Orleans Darkwa and Louisiana Tech sophomore Kenneth Dixon.
The full list of LSU players on preseason watch lists:
A reporter asked Mettenberger, “Zach, are you sick of seeing Alabama win everything?”
His reply: “Aren’t you?”
Advocate sportswriter Matthew Harris contributed to this report.