LSU players support Hill

BATON ROUGE -- As far as LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger is concerned, Jeremy Hill has already earned the trust of his teammates.

"He's already taken the necessary steps (to earn trust) with us," Mettenberger said Monday after learning that Hill, who could have been sent to jail Monday but instead saw the probation he was serving for carnal knowledge of a juvenile extended. "With his probation ... he's already earned the trust from me with the baby steps he's taken."

Mettenberger's attitude towards Hill reflects that of his teammates, who on Monday voiced support for Hill, the talented, but troubled sophomore who led the Tigers in rushing as a freshman last year. Hill has been suspended from the team indefinitely since he was arrested for punching an individual in a bar fight in April.

The arrest was in violation of an already existing probation for Hill. The probation could have been revoked and Hill could have been sent to jail for up to 60 days Monday. Instead, the ruling by state district judge Bonnie Jackson to extend his probation and increase his required community service work opened the door for Hill to return to the Tigers.

His teammates seem to be for his reinstatement.

"I'd love to have him back," said LSU offensive tackle La'el Collins, a high school teammate of Hill's. "But now it's up to Coach (Les) Miles."

Hill arrived at LSU last season already under probation after he plead guilty to carnal knowledge of a juvenile for an incident that happened while he was a student at Baton Rouge's Redemptorist High School. He led the Tigers with 755 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns as a freshman but was arrested again in April, this time for simple battery after he sucker-punched an individual outside a Baton Rouge bar.

Hill plead guilty to that charge, a misdemeanor, in July. The action violated his original probation, which brought him back to court Monday.

By not sending Hill to jail, and by adding exceptions to Hill's strict curfew for football-related activity, Jackson seemed to set up a path for Hill's return to football. The question now shifts to how much more discipline should Hill face from LSU before returning to the field?

Mettenberger said Hill has already made amends with his teammates.

"He's been apologetic," Mettenberger said. "And he's been up here (at the LSU football facility) working when nobody is up here. He's still the same guy we know. He's cut out bad habits and it's noticeable to see the good things he's doing with his life right now."

Collins said that, if he were asked by Miles, he would not hesitate to go to bat for his long-time friend and teammate.

"I would love to have him back," Collins said. "There's no doubt about it. There wouldn't be a second thought."

Regardless of what the decision is, the players said they trust the judgement of Miles.

"He's part of us," Collins said of Hill. "I hope he comes back. But it's up to Coach Miles and he'll make the best decision."