At LSU, the running back conversation always starts with the same two names: Cannon and Faulk. The Tigers lone Heisman winner and the man who made staying home cool again, rightfully perch upon a near unapproachable throne. Dozens of other backs, some of them sensational, have taken the field in Tiger Stadium. We've seen Justin Vincent's freshman heroics, Alley Broussard's thunder-pumping 200-yard performance, Joseph Addai's cut and slash 'em, LaBrandon Toefield's touchdown fest, Charles Scott's best juggernaut impersonation, and Stevan Ridley's will-yourself-to-first-downs-even-if-no-one-is-blocking. And that's just in the last decade. In 2013, Jeremy Hill didn't just join that pantheon, he ascended near the top of it.
1,582 yards from scrimmage (1,401 rushing, 181 receiving)
16 rushing TDs
The numbers speak for themselves. When you dig in and realize that Hill played virtually 11.5 games in 2013, and only topped 20 carries four times, they start to become a bit more jaw dropping. Hill's 1,401 rushing yards for a season is topped only by Charles Alexander in 1977. Carrying the ball an extra 108 times, Alexander amassed just 285 more yards than Hill did on the ground in 2013. An additional 42 carries would have net Hill the LSU single-season rushing crown, at his ungodly 6.9 yards per carry pace. That 6.9 YPC simply dusts Kevin Faulk's previous record of 5.585 ypc for all LSU ball carriers with a minimum of 200 carries on the season.
But Hill wasn't just LSU good. The last SEC running back to average 6.9 YPC on over 200 carries? No one. Never been done before. Only Garrison Hearst at Georgia in 1992 came close, posting 6.8 YPC on 228 carries. Is that a meaningless and arbitrary stat? Well, probably somewhat. But it's also pretty stunning. Start combing through the leaders of running backs to average 6.9 YPC and above, and you'll see a small list. Toss in the 200-carry barrier, and we're talking a group we can probably count on two hands.
While the raw numbers are truly sensational, what truly stands out about Hill is his ability to bury opponents late in the game. It's fitting that his LSU career would end in this way:
Hill's career didn't match the cumulative greatness that was Kevin Faulk, nor was he ever "the man" quite like Cannon, but his fantastic 2013 season, one that started with some ignominy, puts him in the same breath. And that, my friends, is rare company.