Versatile Hall Could Spark OSU Offense
By Brandon Castel
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Jordan Hall and Terrelle Pryor did a lot of winning together.
From high school state championships to Big Ten titles, the two Jeanette, Pa. products have been linked since their earliest days of midget football.
Pryor was the star and Hall his trusty sidekick, but those days are over.
Photo by Dan Harker
Ever since Pryor’s abrupt departure back in June, all of the focus has been on his replacement at the quarterback position, but it’s Hall who could take Pryor’s place as the team’s top playmaker in 2011.
“A person like Jordan, who’s just a football player, he understands the game and it comes natural to him,” new Ohio State receivers coach Stan Drayton said.
“You put him everywhere and he just understands how to go about business. So to have a guy out there who can execute, really puts the stress on the defense. We’re going to utilize those guys, formationally and personalize wise.”
The Buckeyes know they will have to get more creative on offense in the early season as they break in a new quarterback to replace Pryor. It doesn’t help that their top two offensive weapons—tailback Boom Herron and wideout DeVier Posey—won’t be on the field until game six.
Photo by Jim Davidson
Hall will undoubtedly be a part of the solution at running back while Herron sits out, but his impact on the offense won’t stop there.
“I just think I’m a versatile player. I can make plays at receiver, running back, wherever,” said Hall, now entering his junior season in Columbus.
“That’s what I’m trying to do. I just want to help the team and do what I can do. That’s what we’re going to need.”
He is only listed at 5-9, but Hall’s size has actually become an asset for the shifty runner. When he gets in the open field it’s nearly impossible to bring him down, but even in traffic he has the elusiveness to sidestep would-be tacklers.
“It’s going to be hard to guard him because he does it all,” fellow tailback Jaamal Berry said.
Photo by Jim Davidson
“He’s got really good hands, he’s tough, he’s quick, he’s a good ball carrier. He can do it all—punt return, kick return—he’s a good all-around player. You don’t even know what to do to him. Defenders are going to be on their toes trying to game plan around him.”
Not to mention defensive coordinators.
Stan Drayton coached the running backs at the University of Florida last season and he was quick to draw comparisons between Hall and the Gators speedy back, Jeffery Demps.
“He really is (like Demps),” Drayton said.
“Just really natural in understanding coverage and can avoid reroutes by linebackers. If you get a guy like that in space against a linebacker you have to feel good about that.”
Like Hall, Demps probably doesn’t have the size to be a true ‘feature back’ at the Division I level, but he has been a playmaker on the Florida offense every year since he arrived in Gainesville back in 2008.
Over the last three seasons, Demps has racked up more than 2,000 yards of offense and 18 touchdowns as a do-everything back for the Gators. His production dropped off slightly last season, but he still managed to lead the team in all-purpose yards. He is the kind of player who can rack up over 100 yards on just seven carries, like he did against Florida State back in 2009.
Drayton believes Hall can provide a similar spark for the Buckeye offense this fall.
“Jordan Hall is going to be very versatile, both in the run game and the pass game,” he said.
“He is a running back, but he creates so many different matchup problems for defenses when we put him out in the slot. So he is being cross-trained to do a lot for us, including special teams.”
Hall was Ohio State’s top return man last season as a sophomore, and he finished the year second in all-purpose yards (985) behind tailback Boom Herron (1,335). His rushing numbers actually dipped slightly from his freshman year, but he averaged nearly 28 yards per return on kickoffs and nearly 10 yards per return on punts.
That was more than enough to impress Drayton.
“If he continues at the rate he’s going right now, I think he can be one of the most versatile players in college football,” he said.
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