While his pro career has been a rocky one thus far, Jeremy Hill is still one of the most talented young backs in the NFL.
After all, you won't find many running backs who've had over 2,000 all-purpose yards through their first two NFL seasons. That's exactly what Hill has done for the Bengals while being a touchdown machine, scoring 18 times over his last 26 games.
Unfortunately, the first image many see when thinking of Hill is the costly playoff fumble he lost in the playoffs in January. Fair or not, that's how you're judged in the 'what have you done for me lately' league that is the NFL. And if you're part of that camp, all Hill has done lately is help cost the Bengals a chance at ending their playoff drought.
In a recent interview with NFL.com, Hill recounted that fateful play being the low point of his football career.
"[My lowest moment was] the playoff game last year, fumbling and ending our season," Hill said. "It's just like anything in football. You have to stay even keel. You can't get too high with the highs or too low with the lows. As cliché as that may sound, it's real. For me, it's just staying even keel and putting that play behind me and continue to try to stack good plays together. The end result will be good I feel."
Hill had help moving past that fumble from Pro Football Hall of Fame running back Marshall Faulk, who consoled Hill after the January playoff loss.
"Marshall Faulk reached out to me, and told me to keep my head up and that I shouldn't let that play define me," Hill said. "That it doesn't define me. That resonated with me. He's a good mentor of mine and that's a lasting message I took from it."
Hill also expressed his school pride, which largely stems from seeing many of his former Tigers teammates reaching the NFL, and he makes sure to let his current teammates know it.
"I talk trash to all my teammates about having [an LSU] teammate on every team just about," Hill said. "It's fun, man. It's beautiful seeing all the guys you played in college with getting an opportunity and even the younger guys coming in this year, I played with some of those guys, too. We stay close. We stay tight and it's a bond that no one can take away."
The Bengals don't have many LSU alumni on their roster, but the ones they do have are pretty good: Hill and Pro Bowl left tackle Andrew Whitworth, so you can't really blame his trash-talking there.
That's even more true looking around the NFL with 54 LSU players currently in the league (per ESPN) and guys like Giants receiver Odell Beckham Jr. and Dolphins receiver Jarvis Landry making noise. Hill singled out those two, his former teammates and good friends, as the Bengals will face both of their teams this year, something Hill is eager for.
"I'm looking forward to playing both [Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry] equally, just for the trash talk factor," Hill said. "Honestly, we probably won't play either one of them for a while after this, so we gotta get both of those games."
And as for the Bengals' prospects in 2016, Hill made sure to note how he and his teammates are taking it slow and focusing on the task at hand, but he couldn't go without a little of his optimism and confidence slipping out.
"As far as the team, we don't want to get ahead of ourselves. We want to pick up where we left off, as far as doing the right things and playing with energy and playing fast, just taking it week by week. I like the group of men we have right now and the sky's the limit for us."