Following his well-publicized brush with the law in late April, one that occurred with the Redemptorist product already on probation, Hill's future in TigerTown was in jeopardy. But, as everybody knows by this point, the chips fell as they did with the legal system, and the indefinitely suspended Hill was let back onto the team.
Les Miles withheld Hill from play in the team's opener against TCU, but The Hat and position coach Frank Wilson got Hill's feet wet last weekend at home versus UAB, when No. 33 toted the rock six times for 50 yards and a touchdown.
The coaching staff ramped up Hill's acceleration in returning to the field Saturday night, with Kent State in town, as Hill started the ballgame and amassed 117 yards and two touchdowns on 11 carries, all in the first half of the Tigers' 45-13 win.
During his first media appearance this season, Hill told reporters postgame he wasn't sure he'd ever have this opportunity again over the summer.
"I didn't know, but I couldn't focus on that," explained Hill. "All I could do was just go to class every day and just stay in shape, and if my number was called to come back to the team, I was ready to do it. I think I did a good job of that and just moving forward."
Hill went on to say his training regimen during his time away from the team involved some pretty basic things just about any LSU student does on a regular basis.
"I did a lot of stuff on my own – the LSU Rec, just running around the lakes and stuff like that to stay in shape," Hill said. "Whenever they called me back, I was ready to go."
Still, Hill, who had experience training on his own while out of football for the 2011 season, acknowledged there is no substitute for Tommy Moffitt's offseason program and that he had an uphill climb once he was reinstated.
"No, you can't replace the intensity of that at all," Hill replied. "My first workout coming back was pretty intense, but I got through it. Now I'm back working out with them, so it's good. I'm back in the shape of things. I just have to get back to game speed and playing in the game."
As far as how Hill has approached his return to LSU's program, a daily routine has been key, according to the player.
"It's been a humbling experience. I've just been going through a lot, but staying focused and humbled has gotten me through it," said Hill. "Also coming to practice every day and working has kind of gotten my mind off a lot of things and not being distracted. I think coach has put me in a good position. I'm still knocking the rust off so there are a few things I can get better on, but that's what practice is for. I'll just go back to practice this week and improve on those things."
Given his performance against the Golden Flashes, the time seems close at hand when Hill will reclaim his status as LSU's lead back. Although, for the second straight week, Miles downplayed that notion in his postgame press conference.
"He is not quite there it appeared to me," Miles concluded. "I am not saying he is not giving us great effort. That is not what I'm saying at all. What I am saying is he's not quite there yet, but he is coming. His shape is better. It is an interesting thing. You cannot go by snaps. Snaps are a great teacher, and he just hasn't had many."
Hill sees things in a similar fashion. "I think coach just wanted to do that (starting) for me just to get the rust off and get a feel for playing the game at a high speed. Seeing some of my cuts, I definitely missed a few. I'll just go back in the film room and look at it and improve on those things for next week."
He was at his best on a 58-yard touchdown run early in the first quarter that gave the game its first points. Hill told reporters the run had a familiar feel to it.
"It was kind of similar to the run I had against Texas A&M last year," recalled Hill. "We ran a zone play and the defense ran over the top, and I just hit it. The hole was huge. I just had to outrun the corner and the safety, and I just barely did it. But I did it."
Finally, when presented with the argument most in Louisiana wrestled with all summer – whether or not he deserved this additional chance, Hill had a straightforward answer.
"I don't have a response at all. I don't get involved in that," Hill declared firmly. "I don't argue with people or fight people. I just do what I have to do on a day-to-day basis. I go to class, do my homework, go to practice and just move on from there. Whatever they say or how they feel, I can't really affect that. I just live my life to try and make right decisions."
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