Imagine you're a college football recruiter talking with a
high school coach who is trying to sell you on one of his players who just
finished his senior season. He tells you this player is 6-1 and 250, ran a 4.67
40 at a college camp over the summer, and was probably the most athletic player
on his team this year. Last spring this player competed in power lifting and
finished third in his weight class at the state meet. He has recorded a bench
press of 350, a 675-pound squat, and a 640-pound dead lift.
You'd have to at least be intrigued, but you'd undoubtedly
want to know more a lot more, starting with what position this guy plays.
The coach tells you, "He played defensive end for us
and made first team all-district at that position. This season he had 71
tackles, 10 tackles for loss, six sacks, two forced fumbles, two fumble
recoveries, and he also blocked a kick. Oh, and he also made first team
all-district at running back. He had 112 carries for 604 yards and nine
touchdowns. Did I mention he was probably the best athlete on our team?"
He's 6-1, 250 and earned all-district honors at running
back and defensive end? He's starting to sound like Mack Brown's favorite type,
the running back-to-defensive tackle switch waiting to happen. At some point in
the conversation you ask which schools have offered him.
The coach says, "Actually, he doesn't have any offers
at this time. But he's received interest from Texas State and UTSA."
"Not quite. Montana State has shown interest, too.
And he's also heard from a Division II program and an NAIA school that just
played its first football season since World War II."
You wonder how such an athlete has not garnered more
interest on measurables alone. You wonder aloud if he's a grades risk, a
troublemaker in the locker room, or has a reputation for taking plays off.
"No, no and no. He's a very hard worker, he was voted
a team captain by his teammates this season, and his grades have him in the top
25% of his class."
Pretty good size and speed combo, none of the classic red
flags, and almost everybody's missing out on him. Could be a hidden gem. You'd
definitely want to watch film on him and call the coach back later if you're
You can stop imagining now. The hypothetical player discussed above is actually
one P.J. Hall, who hails from Seguin, a city about 30 miles east of
San Antonio. (All the figures and facts related in that hypothetical
conversation are true.) If you follow the recruiting scene and this is the
first time you've read that name, you're far from alone. He does not have a
page on Rivals or 247Sports, the highlights on his Hudl page are set to
private, and the only available video of him is an NCSA profile where he is
listed as "Patrick Hall" rather than P.J.
Aside from Hall's aforementioned football and powerlifting
accomplishments, he's a pretty good track and field athlete. Last spring he
heaved the shot put over 53' and the discus beyond 155' (he finished third at
regionals in the former event). Seguin's head football coach, Wayne Walker,
tells me Hall is a very explosive athlete and can dunk a basketball. I went to
high school with athletes who were 3 inches taller and 60 lbs. lighter than
Hall but couldn't dunk, so I naturally find it remarkable that an athlete
carrying 250 lbs. on a 6'1" frame can pull off that feat.
Hall shows a variety of skills in his football highlights. He's a powerful
runner in the few plays that show him at running back, and fullback is
certainly an option for his college position (6'1" 250 guys who lead their
team in rushing don't grow on trees, after all), but probably only the second
or third most likely one. He plays the run well from his defensive end spot,
using his hands to keep blockers from getting a solid push on him. He uses his
explosiveness and speed to beat slower offensive tackles and get to the
quarterback, and he runs from sideline to sideline chasing down ball carriers.
Solomon Thomas, he's not, but he's a solid-looking player and a specimen of an
athlete who rightfully should have a lot more interest on the recruiting trail
than he has received.
How he has not received more attention, I cannot figure out. Seguin High (not
to be confused with Arlington ISD's Seguin High) isn't a football powerhouse
but the program hasn't been devoid of talent in recent years. Three Seguin
grads have signed with major BCS programs since 2007. Add in Seguin's proximity
to San Antonio and the fact that the school plays in a competitive district in
class 4A and we can eliminate geography and quality of competition as factors
that would hinder his recruiting prospects.
His height is a plausible explanation, because - fairly or not - defensive ends
under 6'3" tend to be judged as undersized, despite what other qualities
and attributes they may have that could make up for their height (long arms,
explosive leaping ability, good instincts, etc.) To compare Hall with some
other DEs you may have heard of, he's an inch taller than Elvis Dumervil, the
same height as Dwight Freeney, and not markedly shorter than Reggie Wilson. I
won't hazard to put him in the same echelon with any of those names, but he has
athletic gifts that many taller DEs only wish they had.
Read enough of Eric's articles or tweets during the course of a year and you'll
see him say several times that some under-recruited player would have a dozen
offers or more if he were two inches taller. I believe that definitely applies
to P.J. Hall. Whichever program lands him will be getting a steal, unless
bigger programs take notice between now and February. And if any do, then this
will likely not be the last time you read his name.
See P.J. Hall's highlights here: http://www.ncsasports.org/football-recruiting/tx/arlington/seguin-high-school--seguin/patrick-hall2