LSU coach Les Miles expects draft-eligible offensive linemen Jerald Hawkins and Vadal Alexander and cornerback Jalen Mills to return to school for 2015.
The deadline to declare for the NFL draft is Thursday. The school is expected to hold a news conference with those who decided to remain in school, as it did last year with La’el Collins.
“I know where we stand (with those three), absolutely. I hope it stays right where it’s at,” the coach said.
The Advocate has reported for several weeks that the staff feels “optimistic” about keeping Alexander and Hawkins. Mills told some teammates immediately after the Music City Bowl loss that he planned to enter the draft, but that’s changed.
All three are expected to return, Miles said at Wednesday’s news conference announcing the hiring of new defensive line coach Ed Orgeron and new defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Kevin Steele.
No decision, though, is final until the deadline passes. For instance, LSU’s staff expected running back Jeremy Hill to return to school last year, but he declared for the draft.
LSU lost seven underclassmen to the draft last year and 10 the year before.
Three have declared this year: linebacker Kwon Alexander, defensive end Danielle Hunter and cornerback Jalen Collins.
Keeping the two offensive linemen is a significant coup for a program that’s lost so many underclassmen over the years. LSU is losing center Elliott Porter and left tackle Collins to graduation. Sophomore Ethan Pocic would be the only returning starter if Vadal Alexander and Hawkins decide to leave.
Mills started at safety this season with senior Ronald Martin after moving from his cornerback spot late last season. He played cornerback as a freshman in 2012, starting all 12 games.
Mills returning would also help a unit losing a host of players. Martin exhausted his eligibility, and Collins declared for the draft.
Mills pleaded not guilty in October to a misdemeanor simple battery charge for allegedly punching a woman over the summer at his apartment complex. His next court date is Jan. 27, a status hearing.
Cutrer not enrolling
Four LSU football players enrolled early on Wednesday, but defensive back Jeremy Cutrer was not one of them.
Cutrer, a highly touted junior college prospect, will not enroll early at LSU in January, but he could still join the team in June. Cutrer, a former LSU signee from Kentwood, is the No. 2-ranked junior college transfer in the nation.
Texas tight end Hanner Shipley, Texas quarterback Justin McMillan, Florida cornerback Kevin Toliver II and fullback David Ducre enrolled early, as expected. Those four are part of LSU’s current 16-commit 2015 class.
Chavis: Take it
An unlikely person reached out to Steele about taking the LSU defensive coordinator job: John Chavis.
Chavis and Steele are best friends. They both grew up in Dillon, South Carolina, went to high school together, were college roommates at Tennessee and talk often. In fact, the two spoke three times Tuesday, when the coach presumably officially accepted the position.
After leaving for A&M two weeks ago, Chavis reached out to Steele and encouraged him to pursue the job.
“I was talking to him through the whole process,” Steele said. “After he took (the A&M job), he said, ‘You ought to go to LSU. You ought to take that job.’ ”
Robinson could return
Suspended cornerback Rashard Robinson could return, Miles said, but he’s facing “academic difficulty.”
Robinson has been suspended since the 10th game of the season against Alabama in early November. Robinson, a sophomore, started six of the first eight games of the season. He was also suspended for the season opener against Wisconsin.
“I think he’s motivated better than he’s been,” Miles said Wednesday.
Follow Ross Dellenger on Twitter: @DellengerAdv.