BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - A year ago at this time, Jeremy Hill and his promising football career were in serious limbo. Hill had just been suspended indefinitely from the LSU team by head coach Les Miles, after he was caught on video punching a man outside of a Tigerland bar and arrested on a charge of simple battery.
"I supported and endorsed the suspension; I was in total agreement with it," said Lisa Hill, Jeremy's mother. "As I told Les Miles, I approve all authority. Putting him on probation, I was 1,000 percent in support of it."
Hill would spend the summer estranged from his teammates, unable to lift weights or participate in any activities as the Tigers' 2013 season opener approached. Huge anxiety continued to build, as the legal ramifications could've been devastating. Hill had already been arrested in early 2011 on a charge of oral sexual battery. He pleaded guilty in January 2012 to carnal knowledge of a juvenile, which is a misdemeanor.
"I was never angry, because I know who Jeremy Hill is," his mother continued. "Would I say Jeremy didn't always make good decisions, that he used poor judgment sometimes? Sure. But what mom, who's had a teenager, can't say that?"
Still, the world of Twitter and social media had no mercy on the former Redemptorist star. Many fans and critics felt Miles needed to let Hill go.
"As a parent, when you love your child, you always want to defend them. But I understand that people have a right to their own opinion. So trust me, I was never offended by anyone's opinion. I think what hurts is when you hear lies and you know it's not the truth and you have no power to change it. So in that situation, I think we both learned to endure the pain and to hold our head up, because we know what the truth is. When you know what the truth is, it empowers you to stand and that's what we did," Lisa Hill explained.
Her son concurred.
"Always having a strong relationship with God, leaning on him, praying every day, every night, that's something we always did as a family during the tough times," said Jeremy Hill. "My family has been a huge part of me sitting here today. And I would never take any of that for granted."
Eventually, Hill would dodge jail time again and be reinstated to the LSU squad in August. Miles took even more national and local heat for "catering to the star running back." Critics said he was only interested in winning football games. But Hill's mother said that's hardly the case. She added without the guidance and sternness of the coach, her son could've ventured even farther off course.
"I sing Coach Miles' praises. I think he's an incredible man. I believe he's a man of integrity and of character. I appreciated the way he supported Jeremy. And as a media person or someone reading the paper, there are so many things you don't see that go on behind closed doors, in the trenches, in the locker room, when he's up in their faces, slapping them around, calling them names, getting them straight. So I appreciate all of that. It really nurtured Jeremy and taught him to be a better man," said Lisa Hill.
"He's a player's coach, that's the biggest thing. He's going to have your back for everything," Hill added about Miles.
Hill proceeded to have a tremendous year, despite the fact he didn't play in the Tigers' 37-27 season opening triumph against TCU. He would finish with a monstrous 1,401 yards rushing and 16 touchdowns. Hill's final game as a Tiger was nothing short of incredible, powering his way to 216 yards and two scores in LSU's 21-14 win over Iowa in The Outback Bowl. He's also steered clear of trouble and now awaits hearing his name called during the NFL Draft.
"It has been very amazing. It's been the highest of highs, the lowest of lows. Now we can take a deep breath and enter into a new season of our lives. I'm extremely proud of him," Lisa Hill said reflecting on the journey.
Jeremy is also excited about what lies ahead. He said many life lessons have been learned.
"I've made all the mistakes a young man can make in his life. I've put that all behind me. I've gotten nothing but good reviews from the NFL teams. I'm not really worried about all of that stuff. It's all in the past and everyone is moving forward," he said.
The NFL Draft starts at 8 p.m.