Source: LSU expects Jeremy Hill to return

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING --LSU running back Jeremy Hill (33) celebrates enthusiastically in the end zone, after his long fourth quarter touchdown run that helped seal the 21-14 Outback Bowl win for LSU in Tampa, Florida Wednesday. He scored twice on the day.
Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING --LSU running back Jeremy Hill (33) celebrates enthusiastically in the end zone, after his long fourth quarter touchdown run that helped seal the 21-14 Outback Bowl win for LSU in Tampa, Florida Wednesday. He scored twice on the day.

LSU is expecting running back Jeremy Hill to return for his junior season, a source said Friday. An announcement could come as early as Monday.

The Advocate reported Monday night that Hill was leaning toward bypassing the NFL draft and returning to school. The program expects him to do so.

Underclassmen have until Wednesday to declare, so Hill could change his mind.

Hill would be the first draft-eligible LSU player weighing a pro decision to choose to stay in school. Defensive tackles Ego Ferguson and Anthony Johnson already have declared for the draft.

Receivers Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry also are expected to turn pro, though they have not made it official. Both are projected as second- to third-round selections.

Left tackle La’el Collins and right guard Trai Turner, a redshirt sophomore, are still weighing their options. Collins, projected as a high second-round choice, was “strongly considering” returning to school, a source said Thursday. Turner, off many scouts’ radars, had spoken favorably about returning earlier in the week, his high school coach said.

On Friday morning, Hill’s oldest of two probations was terminated. Afterward, he would not comment on his future. Later, he wrote on his Instagram account that he’d be announcing a “big decision soon” on Twitter.

Hill choosing to stay might surprise some.

He was second in the Southeastern Conference in regular-season rushing yards and finished the season with 1,401. He piled up 216 yards in the Outback Bowl against Iowa, then the seventh-best defense in the nation. That was the best single-game rushing performance for an LSU running back since 2004.

Hill is ranked the eighth-best running back in this year’s draft and is 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.

Hill and coach Les Miles met Monday to discuss the player’s future.

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, Landry and Beckham.

If Hill does not change his mind, LSU would return a stable of veteran running backs to go with true freshman Leonard Fournette, the St. Augustine star and recent LSU commitment who’s ranked the nation’s No. 1 prospect.

Checking in

In its search for a new offensive line coach, LSU “inquired” about Virginia Tech offensive line coach/run game coordinator Jeff Grimes, CoachingSearch.com reported Friday.

The site corrected an earlier report saying Virginia Tech tight ends coach/recruiting coordinator Bryan Stinespring was interviewing for the LSU job.

The O-line gig opened Wednesday when LSU and Greg Studrawa parted way after seven seasons. Grimes, 45, just completed his first season in Blacksburg, Va. He previously coached the offensive line at Auburn during Gene Chizik’s roller-coaster four years from 2009-12.

Grimes is a Texas native who graduated from UTEP and has had stops at Colorado, BYU, Arizona State, Boise State and Texas A&M as a graduate assistant. Virginia Tech averaged 119 rushing yards this past season, ranking 109th nationally. The Hokies were 8-5.

Recruiting rumblings

Plaquemine defensive end Davon Godchaux, a four-star LSU commit for the 2014 class, is reopening his recruitment, he told TigerSportsDigest.com. Godchaux, who missed most of this season with a torn ACL, told the site that he’d take visits to UCLA, Auburn and Florida. He’ll now make his pick Feb. 5, National Signing Day.

Four-star safety Kevin Henry of Central High tweeted that he was offered a scholarship by LSU. Henry is part of the 2015 class.

Four-star defensive tackle T.D. Moton of Shreveport’s Woodlawn High, a 2015 prospect, de-committed from Mississippi State, he announced on Twitter. According to ESPN, Moton is considering LSU, Alabama, Ole Miss, Florida and Florida State.

Lagniappe

LSU linebacker Lamin Barrow was added to the Senior Bowl roster. He joins safety Craig Loston as LSU seniors who were invited to the game, set for Jan. 25 in Mobile, Ala. Quarterback Zach Mettenberger was invited, but he’s recovering from knee surgery. … LSU released a new rendering of Tiger Stadium’s south end zone expansion Friday, showing purple chair-back seats in the club level seating areas. The seats were gold on the previous rendering. The expansion to the stadium is scheduled for completion by the season opener.