Glenn Guilbeau / Gannett Louisiana
BATON ROUGE, La. - Like many who have done jail time or some other form of punishment for their actions or for allowing themselves to get into a bad situation, LSU defensive back Jalen Mills has regrets. He wishes he would have listened more intently to some of the guest speakers from the law enforcement field that LSU coach Les Miles routinely has visit his team.
'Man, listen to those people man, because you never know what could happen. Anything can happen, like my situation,' Mills said to reporters at LSU's Media Day on Sunday and to any teammates within earshot. 'We actually have had meetings that Coach Miles set up, and they would bring people in for things like that that happen.'
Mills, a starting cornerback for the Tigers the last two seasons, spoke for the first time since spending a night and part of a day in jail last June after his arrest on a felony second degree battery charge of a woman at his apartment complex near LSU. Mills was immediately indefinitely suspended by Miles in accordance with university policy, which states student-athletes charged with a felony cannot remain on their respective team or teams at LSU.
That charge was reduced to misdemeanor simple battery by Baton Rouge district attorney Hillar Moore on Aug. 4 in time for Mills to return to the team for the first day of practice. Moore said his office's investigation of the incident that occurred in May was unable to prove that Mills had 'specific intent to cause serious bodily injury' to the victim.
Mills, 20, will have an arraignment hearing in the coming weeks before 19th judicial district court judge Mike Erwin at which he will plead not guilty, according to his attorney Brent Stockstill of Baton Rouge. Stockstill has said Mills did not hit the victim. Someone else did, according to witnesses Stockstill interviewed.
'If I had a second chance to go back to that situation, I wouldn't have myself in this predicament' Mills said. 'I wouldn't have caused all this confusion on the team. I could have handled the situation a lot better than I did. When everything happened, it happened so fast.'
Mills said he was raised to treat women right by women, including his mother Kisa Mills.
'I grew up with my mother, my grandmother, my aunt,' he said. 'They raised me and showed me how to love and treat a woman. People who really know me know I'm a very kind-hearted, loving person.'
Mills considers himself that and lucky.
'I had played football all my life, and then something like that happened,' he said. 'And now I'm back on the team. I'm so thankful. Just being able to be here with my brothers right now after going through that. It's crazy, you know.'
Mills feared the worst.
'It was rough just going through the whole process,' he said. 'I didn't know whether I was going to be able to play with these guys play with my brothers again.'
Mills could still face a suspension from Miles for a game or games or parts of games, depending on the outcome of his case or how Miles views it.
'I don't know. That's up to Coach Miles and his final decision on me toward the season,' Mills said. 'It's a learning experience. I'm learning from it right now. I just have to keep moving forward and just keep pushing and try to stay focused on football for right now.'
Mills remained at free safety in the first week of practice after moving there from cornerback after last season.
'He's had no problems at all with the switch,' defensive coordinator John Chavis said. 'We did that on the run at the end of last season when we got in trouble. But with the work he's had in spring, he can play corner, he can play safety, he can play nickel or dime (fifth and sixth defensive backs in passing situations). He's probably the most interchangeable guy we have.'
But there were some kinks in the first week of practice.
'I was kind of rusty at first,' said Mills, whose suspension before Aug. 4 barred him from the LSU weight room and football facility. 'I worked out at the rec center (LSU's student recreation center). They have a little track in there. I still had my cleats, so any open field I could find, I'd do my drills and try to stay in condition.'
Mills will have to beat out junior Corey Thompson, who missed spring practice with a knee injury, and true freshman John Battle to start at free safety.
'I'm getting back in the swing of things, and I have to do it fast,' he said. 'You can't take a play off. If you take a play off, that will make you move down on the depth chart. I've hit my playbook a little harder. The coaches have been on me hard because I missed a month and a half of weight work and conditioning. So I'm just trying to step it up and get back to the level that I was.'
ADAMS A FRESHMAN SENSATION: Most have heard of the jewels of LSU's class of 2014 - tailback Leonard Fournette, quarterback Brandon Harris and wide receiver Malachi Dupre. But also remember the name Jamal Adams, who is a true freshman safety from Hebron High in Carrollton, Texas.
Adams, the No. 3 prep safety in the country according to Rivals.com, is competing with senior Ronald Martin for the No. 1 strong safety job. Adams could also find himself at free safety as defensive coordinator John Chavis uses his safeties interchangeably.
'You know what, he hadn't taken a snap here,' Chavis said when asked if Adams will play a lot this season. 'But I'm just going to say, yes. Absolutely. And again, you're around guys and sometimes you just know. He is so mature. He's mature beyond his age both physically and mentally. He's prepared to play.'
QUARTERBACK QUOTES OF THE DAY: 'I promise you we'll play a quarterback in every set.'
'If we can get the quarterbacks to facilitate and function, we're going to be good.'
---LSU coach Les Miles on the quarterback battle between sophomore Anthony Jennings and freshman Brandon Harris at Media Day Sunday.