Mills regrets causing distraction
BATON ROUGE, La. -- Although he did not get into specifics about his still-open legal case, LSU safety Jalen Mills said Sunday that he regrets putting his teammates and coaches in a bad position with his June arrest.
Speaking publicly for the first time since his arrest for allegedly hitting a woman and knocking her unconscious in May, Mills said at LSU's media day Sunday that it has been a painful learning experience.
"When everything happened, it happened so fast," Mills said. "I didn't know what I was going to be able to do for a month and a half or so. Just going through everything, if I had a second chance, I wouldn't have myself in this predicament and I wouldn't cause all this confusion on the team."
Mills said his case could serve as a cautionary tale for his younger teammates, convincing them to heed coaches' and outside visitors' warnings about getting into such situations.
"We actually have meetings where coach [Les] Miles and the NCAA bring people in when things like that happen," he said. "Man, listen to those people because you never know what can happen. Anything can happen, like my situation."
Just in time for preseason practice, Miles lifted the safety's suspension Monday, ending a lengthy banishment from all team activities. Earlier that day, the East Baton Rouge Parish district attorney had announced Mills would be charged with only misdemeanor battery and not the felony second-degree battery charges that initially were on the table.
"After an entire summer of suspension, we felt like while this thing was still being decided that we bring him onto the team and then continue that discipline," Miles said after reinstating Mills.
No trial date has been set for Mills' case, but his attorney, Brent Stockstill, has said Mills is innocent and will plead not guilty once the case goes to trial.
Mills said his teammates and coaches voted to allow him back on the team, just as tailback Jeremy Hill, a 2014 second-round pick of the Cincinnati Bengals, was allowed back in 2013 following an arrest and guilty plea on misdemeanor battery charges.
"It was kind of rough, just going through the whole process, not knowing whether I would be there to play with these guys," Mills said. "They're my brothers, so once I heard those guys voted me back on the team, I was thankful."
Miles has not announced whether Mills will face a game suspension, although Hill sat out the first five quarters of the 2013 season following his guilty plea. Mills deferred to his coach when asked whether he thought he would be available for the full season.
As of now, his greater concern is getting back into game shape and shaking off the rust stemming from his absence from summer workouts. While away from the team, he worked out at LSU's student recreation center and worked alone in drills on any open practice field he could find.
"I had to try to get back into the swing of things, and I had to do it fast," Mills said. "Just because those guys let me back on the team, they still have high expectations for me."
Mills has started all 26 games of his college career and shifted from cornerback to safety late last season. He continued as a starting safety during spring practice and hopes to reclaim that status now that he's back on the team.
The Tigers have several safeties with starting experience and a group of promising newcomers who also are in contention for playing time, but Mills is by far the most experienced player in LSU's secondary.
"It's just a learning experience," Mills said of the uncertainty he faces on and off the field. "I'm learning from it right now. I just have to keep moving forward and just keep pushing and just try to stay focused on football."
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