Safety Jalen Mills has returned to the LSU football team on the same day that a misdemeanor charge was levied against him.
Coach Les Miles confirmed the news in an evening press conference Monday.
Mills was spotted during Monday afternoon’s practice, just hours after East Baton Rouge District Attorney Hillar Moore charged him with simple battery.
“Misdemeanor being what it is, we’re moving forward,” Miles said when asked about the timing of the decision.
Mills had been indefinitely suspended from the team since his arrest in June for allegedly punching a woman in a May incident at his apartment. He was arrested and charged with second-degree battery, a felony.
Mills, expected to be a key piece in the secondary, was seen practicing in full gear Monday afternoon, the second of two practices on the opening day of fall camp.
The situation is similar to that of running back Jeremy Hill last season. Hill pleaded guilty to a simple battery charge stemming from a fight outside of a Tigerland band.
Moore charged Hill on the same day last year – the first day of fall camp – and the sophomore running back returned to practice that afternoon after a team vote. There was not a team vote to reinstate Mills. Hill was suspended for the first five quarters of the 2013 season, an unannounced suspension.
Miles is not revealing a possible suspension for Mills during the season, saying matters will be handled internally. Mills’ attorney, Brent Stockstill, said Mills plans to plead not guilty to the charge.
Mills was moved from cornerback to safety late last season and was expected to be a starter at one of the two safety spots this season until his arrest for allegedly punching a woman, causing her to briefly lose consciousness in the hallway of his apartment complex on May 4.
According to a warrant, the woman needed four stitches to close a gash on her lip after an alleged altercation with Mills after she knocked on Mills’ door looking for a friend.
A witness corroborated the victim’s story and both picked Mills out of a photo lineup. The warrant did not identify the victim or the witness.
In his LSU career, Mills has started all 26 games, and he ranked third on the roster last season with 67 tackles and three interceptions. He is on the Lott Trophy Watch list and is the secondary’s most experienced member.
Mills suffered a summer-long suspension, Miles said. He was not allowed to work out with the team, attend meetings or presentations.
Mills will sustain more punishment, including extra conditioning, Miles said.