LSU coach Les Miles won’t announce if any of his underclassmen have already made the decision to go pro early, but he said “several” players have told the staff they are considering returning to school.
“I would say that several underclassmen have said unofficially that they’re considering returning,” he said Friday night after practice. “I can tell you that we’re likely to have a nice press conference and an opportunity to announce those guys remaining like we did La’el (Collins).”
LSU had a press conference in January for Collins and a group of other juniors who chose to remain in school while a half-dozen underclassmen left.
Miles declined to reveal the underclassmen, if any, who have decided to leave early this year. According to Yahoo Sports, cornerback Jalen Collins is expected to declare for the draft, while defensive end Danielle Hunter is leaning to returning to school.
Two sources told The Advocate that no definitive decisions have been made. Deadline to officially declare for the draft is Jan. 15.
Collins, Hunter, linemen Vadal Alexander and Jerald Hawkins, linebacker Kwon Alexaner and defensive back Jalen Mills are all starters who are draft eligible. Receiver Travin Dural and punter Jamie Keehn have said they do not plan to leave school early.
“I think there’s a reasonable expectation that some of these guys should return and benefit greatly,” Miles said. “I would also think that this team coming back, minus the seniors, would be a pretty special football team.”
Two of five assistants inked
Two LSU position coaches have signed contract extensions, Miles said.
LSU has offered extensions to five position coaches whose contracts expire in March, The Advocate reported last week. The list includes recruiting coordinator and running backs coach Frank Wilson, defensive line coach Brick Haley, defensive backs coach Corey Raymond, receivers coach Adam Henry and tight ends coach Steve Ensminger.
Miles didn’t specify which of the five signed their extensions but said of the other three, “I would think we’re working feverishly to keep them all.”
Miles has not spoken with former Nebraska head coach and ex-LSU defensive coordinator Bo Pelini since Pelini’s expletive-filled recording during a team meeting was released earlier this week.
Miles called Pelini “passionate” and said the situation was “unfortunate.”
“Bo’s a passionate guy. I haven’t read the transcripts and the issues there,” Miles said. “Sometimes those people have … in the heat of the moment, don’t necessarily have the wherewithal (for) time to pass before they consider exactly what’s being said.”
Pelini was defensive coordinator for Miles’ first three seasons at LSU, 2005-07.
Hilliard set for Saturday practice
Running back Kenny Hilliard is expected to practice on Saturday for the first since he injured his shoulder in the Nov. 8 loss to Alabama, Miles said.
Hilliard suffered the injury on LSU’s first drive of the game against the Crimson Tide and missed the rest of that game and the final two games against Arkansas and Texas A&M. He’s third on the team in rushing and has the second-most rushing touchdowns.
The Les Miles Show – Music City Bowl Edition – will be live at TJ Ribs at 8 p.m. on Dec. 26, the day before the squad leaves for Nashville, Tennessee. ... Five LSU scholarship players graduated on Friday. The list includes DE Jermauria Rasco, Hilliard, LB D.J. Welter, DB Trey Sullivan and TE Travis Dickson. Seniors Connor Neighbors, Justin Maclin and Evan Washington graduated in previous semesters. … No LSU players will miss the bowl game for academic troubles, Miles said – at least no one in the two-deep depth chart. “I don’t know specifically right now there they would be anybody missing,” he said. “There is nobody that is in two deep that’s currently in the two deep that’s not expected to travel.”
Follow Ross Dellenger on Twitter: @DellengerAdv.