Before his arrest, Jeremy Hill had been the presumed starter at running back for an LSU squad that was likely to rely on its ground game to score points. If his suspension carries over into the season, they'll be forced to turn to a series of guys who haven't really had an opportunity to show their worth in the backfield.
Hill was the incumbent atop a thinning depth chart. The Tigers distributed the ball amongst running backs somewhat by committee, but Hill was by far the most commonly called upon, receiving 142 carries for 755 yards and 12 touchdowns, about 50 carries, 300 yards, and six touchdowns more than anybody else on the team. That - plus a strong spring - made Hill the presumptive starter for LSU.
But an incident in which Hill allegedly beat a man has led to Hill being suspended indefinitely, and he will likely face legal repercussions, which could spill over into the 2013 season.
Were Hill to miss games, his loss would seem disastrous, due to the fact that he wouldn't be the only loss in the running back room. Spencer Ware and Michael Ford each declared early for the NFL draft, with Ware going in the sixth round to the Seattle Seahawks and Ford signing as an undrafted free agent with the Chicago Bears. And the team didn't add a single running back in their 26-man 2013 recruiting class, so reinforcements are not on the way
But when you look down the team's hypothetical running back depth chart, there are several options who have proven themselves on the field. LSU was likely going to go by committee to a certain extent regardless, so everybody who will be asked to step up was probably going to be getting carries anyway. Hill might be the best back the Tigers have, but they still have a strong backfield without him.
Here's a look at a few of LSU's options if Hill's status doesn't change.
Alfred Blue, senior
Blue could have been LSU's starting running back for all of 2012. He worked his way up the depth chart, finishing third in rushing yards behind Ware and Ford as a sophomore with 539 yards.
And as a junior, he came out of the gates hot: the 6'2, 215-pound back ran for 123 yards against North Texas, then 101 against Washington. He was en route to another good game against Idaho, but suffered a knee injury that ended his season after just three games.
Blue has averaged 6.6 yards per carry for his career, and that's not against chump competition either: in 2011, he had 70 yards and a touchdown against Florida and a late 48-yard run to paydirt in the SEC Championship Game against Georgia. If he's healthy, he's a big boost for the Tigers.
Kenny Hilliard, junior
If Hill can't play, HIlliard would be the top returning rusher. Although he's only started one game in his two seasons with the Tigers, he's managed three 100-yard games, against Arkansas as a freshman and against North Texas and Idaho as a sophomore. All told, he had 464 yards on 82 carries in 2012 with six touchdowns.
The former four-star recruit out of Patterson (La.) is a bigger back, listed at 6'0, 231 pounds, but And the Valley Shook reported he looked slimmer and sprier at the team's spring game.
Terrence Magee, junior
Magee, a three-star athlete out of Franklinton (La.) in high school, faced some changes to start his LSU career. The 5'10, 205-pounder was listed as a running back his freshman year, registering 27 carries for 138 yards, scoring a touchdown against Kentucky. But coaches shifted him to wide receiver as a sophomore, and he disappeared into the depths of LSU's depth chart, only recording one catch for seven yards.
With Ware and Ford gone, he was moved back to running back, and caught they eye of And The Valley Shook at the team's spring game:
Among the other running backs, Terrence Magee was easily the most impressive. He runs hard for a back that isn't nearly as big as his teammates, but also shows some very quick feet and a feel for the passing game.
Perhaps Magee can be a bigger factor than expected now that he's got a home on the field.