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2013 Blitz: #27 Kenny Hilliard

LSU is 31 days away from the start of fall camp and Geaux247 continues to take a look at the returning veterans to get you to the beginning of camp.

Kenny Hilliard got off to a blistering start in 2012

Today, we take a look at junior running back Kenny Hilliard .

#27 Kenny Hilliard

Coming out of High School: LSU’s 2011 signing class was loaded from top to bottom and the prize of that crop at running back was Patterson’s Kenny Hilliard.

Hilliard’s career at Patterson was filled with awards and accomplishments, but the one that will always stand out is the record he set of 8,603 yards rushing that set the Louisiana High School record. The 106 touchdowns on the ground is another mark that few, if any, have attained.

Hilliard was a model of consistency since his freshman season when he ran for 1,825 yards and 18 touchdowns. He followed that up with 2,377 and 34 scores as a sophomore then toppled the 2,000 yard mark again as a junior with 2,512 and 32 more touchdowns.

The 6-foot, 225-pounder battled some nagging injuries as a senior, but still ran for 1,804 yards and 22 touchdowns on 279 carries.

Schools from coast to coast offered Hilliard during his sophomore campaign, including LSU. Often times when dealing with a prospect rated as highly as he was – No. 8 running back and No. 113 overall in the 247Composite – coaches have to wait things out on the recruiting front.

That wasn’t the case with him, though, as Hilliard was the final piece of a trifecta that Frank Wilson pulled on Dec. 19, 2009 as he started that morning off in flipping Anthony Johnson from his pledge to Tennessee.

Around 10 a.m., Corey White committed to the Tigers. Then Hilliard pulled the trigger shortly after 10 p.m. giving Wilson and the Tigers an unforgettable day on the recruiting trail.

LSU Career: Things got off to a slow start for Hilliard as he enrolled at LSU in time for spring ball, but missed most of that first spring as he needed to concentrate on his academics and getting acclimated to life away from home.

In LSU’s first seven games during his true freshman campaign, Hilliard ran just five times for 20 yards. He had a breakout performance in Week 8 when Spencer Ware was suspended for the Auburn game as he ran for two scores and 65 yards on 10 rushes.

Hilliard finished the season on a strong note as he posted his first 100-yard game of his career with 102 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries in the regular season finale against Arkansas. Over LSU’s final four games he was the Tigers’ leading rusher with 249 yards and four touchdowns on 41 attempts.

Heading into his sophomore season, a lot was expected of Hilliard. And he produced early on as he started off with a career-high 141 yards and two touchdowns against North Texas. He rushed for two scores in each of LSU’s first three contests and led the team in rushing after four weeks with 343 yards and six scores on just 47 totes.

Things came to a screeching halt in Week 5 as Hilliard fumbled twice against Towson. The next week, LSU’s ground game struggled against Florida then the following week Jeremy Hill burst onto the scene against South Carolina and Hilliard’s touches were minimal from that point on.

Over the Tigers’ final nine games of the 2012 campaign, Hilliard rushed for just 121 yards on 35 opportunities.

What we expect to see in 2013: It’s hard to argue with the way Hilliard’s true freshman campaign went with 336 yards and eight touchdown on 62 carries.

LSU couldn’t ask for a better start in 2012 either with his performance in the first four weeks.

However, the way his sophomore season ended was a huge disappointment. And no one was more disappointed than Hilliard himself.

Many wonder what happened after getting off to such a strong start. Was it a lack of confidence after coughing the ball up against Towson? Was it having a spot in Les Miles’ doghouse?

I think you can say it was a little of both. But, you also have to take into consideration the life-changing event that happened around the same time as his production and opportunities diminished when he became a father to twins.

Anyone who has ever had a child knows how hard the adjustment is at first. Add another newborn into the equation, along with school and the demands of playing major college football, and it’s easy to see why the focus may have been lacking on the practice field.

All one has to do is look at the spring Hilliard put together as a sign that the focus is back. He earned several awards for his efforts including outstanding performance in the off-season program, outstanding leadership in spring drills, and outstanding performance in spring drills.

Although he rushed for only 21 yards on five carries in the spring game, Hilliard led the Tigers in rushing in the two scrimmages prior to that with 91 yards in one and 90 in the other.

Sources tell Geaux247 he is primed to have a good year and looks as good as he has since arriving at LSU. And with the status of Hill up in the air, along with Alfred Blue bouncing back from a torn ACL, LSU will need the Hilliard that showed up the first four weeks of last season.

LSU is at the midway point of the summer off-season program and the word we are getting on Hilliard is he is quicker and more determined than ever.

If he performs at the level he is capable of then some think this could be his final year at LSU as he will declare for the NFL draft.

The time to speculate on his future after this season will come.

The time to speculate on what he does in 2013 is now.

And, I’m expecting big things from Hilliard as he takes advantage of the opportunity in front of him so that he can take care of his family for years to come.

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