Back From Suspension, Hall Has Instant Impact

Despite facing a two-game suspension to kick off the season, Jordan Hall has come back to Ohio State's offense and instantaneously boosted the youthful unit. Now just two games after returning, Hall has been named a team captain.

Jordan Hall went from exiled teammate to captain almost as quickly as he shot down the sideline in his a 90-yard kickoff return in Ohio State's 37-17 win over Colorado Saturday.

Having been forced to sit out the first two games of the season as one of three Ohio State football players suspended for taking improper benefits at a charity event in Cleveland in February, Hall could have allowed the missed time to have a lasting impact on his promising junior season.

Instead, it took him only two games back from suspension to claim his spot as one of the team's biggest playmakers before being selected by the coaches to represent the Buckeyes in the Big Ten opener as a team captain.

"It's definitely an honor," said Hall, who watched the Buckeyes' first two victories of the season at home on television. "It will be one of my greatest memories at Ohio State, definitely."

Hall was the perfect example for why head coach Luke Fickell didn't name permanent captains to this year's team, electing to hold that honor until the end of the season. Fickell took over the Buckeyes with five prominent players facing suspension for more serious, unrelated NCAA violations, which eventually led to the demise of former head coach Jim Tressel.

The players still on the team — wide receiver DeVier Posey, offensive lineman Mike Adams, running back Boom Herron, and defensive end Solomon Thomas — are all expected to play major roles upon their return in the sixth game against Nebraska.

But Hall's captain candidacy was simply a reflection of how the running back responded to his own suspension, providing the only offensive spark in Ohio State's dismal 24-6 loss at Miami (Fla.) one week before his dazzling performance against Colorado where he racked up 231 all-purpose yards.

"We understand we learn from our mistakes, but we're not going to throw guys away," said Fickell of Hall, who shot up to the top spot on the depth chart immediately upon his return. "That's kind of the reason we wanted to have the game captains the whole season, so we could make sure we could bring everybody to be part of this team no matter what their situation. They learn from it and grow from it, they have the right attitude and they continue to get better."

Maybe Hall did grow immensely on the field early in the season despite not playing, but the games he has put together in his short time as the team's top running back this season didn't come unwarned.

As if his 85-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in last year's win over Michigan wasn't enough to foreshadow the type of weapon Hall could end up being in his junior season, his teammates and coaches raved about what the 5-9, 195-pounder could do through spring and fall camp.

And in the early portions of this season Hall has provided life for a youthful Buckeyes offense in desperate need of a consistent playmaker.

Whether he is carrying the football, catching passes out of the backfield or returning kickoffs, Hall said he feels like he's a constant threat to take it to the house every time.

"We have a lot of guys who can make plays but I think when it comes down to it the team will kind of rely on me to make a play," he said. "I just take the role as a playmaker. I am not the only one, but I feel like the team kind of relies on me (to do that) being a punt returner and kick returner, running back, and sometimes playing in the slot."

Though some questioned Hall's ability to carry the ball 20 times because of his lack of ideal size for a running back, Ohio State's coaching staff has done whatever it can to put him in different situations to touch the ball.

"He has a great attitude about this game and he is a really reliable guy," Ohio State offensive coordinator Jim Bollman said of Hall. "When he walks into a room, he isn't going to be the biggest guy or the most awesome guy you see, but his production on the field is amazing and it doesn't matter what he's doing. If he is blocking, or running the ball, or catching, he does it well."

The most diverse player on the team as a result, Hall couldn't help but be witty when asked if there was anything on the field he couldn't do.

"Definitely not a linemen," he said, drawing laughter in the room before quickly getting back to being serious. "(I can play) any of the skill positions offensively or defensively. I (prefer offense). I like to score."

The coaches will be counting on him to do that.

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