The hiring of head coach Urban Meyer allowed the senior to start a new path in Columbus, and his turnaround since the start of the calendar year has been fun to watch. Hall has raised his GPA, been told he's perfect for Meyer's spread offense and been named a team captain.
The only problem? The tendon injury in his right foot that has caused him to miss all of fall camp and will keep him out of at least the team's season opener Sept. 1 with Miami.
At least there is good news on that front, too. Hall got the walking boot he's been sporting for much of the fall taken off yesterday, and his rehab is progressing to the point that he feels like he can be back on the field as early as game two against Central Florida.
"I want to play in the second game," he said. "I want to play in the second game so I can get going for Cal and when the Big Ten starts and UAB. Hopefully I'm ready by game two."
It's fair to say his teammates and coaches hope the same. Hall possesses the quickness, vision and agility to become a star in Meyer's offense, which famously at Florida had a hybrid player who could run the ball out of the backfield or catch passes in space then make things happen with his speed and cutting ability.
Hall has exhibited that at times in his Ohio State career, including on a couple of long returns in the special teams game in which he showed an ability to cut on a dime and find open space in the tiniest of windows.
Still, he has only 814 rushing yards and 202 receiving yards in three seasons, numbers Meyer termed as "decent" when he was first hired. While Hall has shown flashes – he was impressive against Miami last year in his first game back from an NCAA suspension, for example – he has also never been a major offensive contributor. Immediately, the coach challenged him to do more, and the response has been significant.
"I watched him compete and he should do better," Meyer said in March when looking back at Hall's career. "He's a competitor. I like Jordan. He had a very good offseason, not good, I mean borderline great."
The good vibes continued after a solid spring, and Hall appeared on track to start the season at tailback and in the hybrid role until June when he stepped on sharp object while not wearing shoes outside his apartment.
"Yeah, I was kind of frustrated," Hall said. "I felt like I was working so hard in the offseason and then this happened and it set me back again. I talked to Coach Meyer and (running backs coach Stan) Drayton and they said focus on the things you can control, and that's what I've been doing. Time has flown by."
Hall has been spotted doing some light jogging and catching passes during fall camp, and he said he's also been rehabbing by doing underwater running, cardio work on an exercise bike and climbing a StairMaster.
Players have obviously noticed his continued hard work, as he was chosen as a team captain in voting announced Sunday evening.
"I knew I had a chance, but when Coach Meyer called my name, it did catch me by surprise," said Hall, who has boosted his GPA as well since Meyer took over. "I look forward to leading the team. Even in the spring and in the winter I did try to take on a leadership role. I guess the guys saw that because they voted for me, but I knew how last season went. I'm not trying to go out with my senior season like that."
In addition to the team's 6-7 record, Hall was not a major part of the offense by the end of 2011. He had 10 or more carries in each of his first five games after coming back from suspension, but Hall had 4.1 yards per carry and just one touchdown in that span. In the team's last six games, he had only a total of 20 carries for 84 yards.
With a new staff and a new year in place, Hall hopes to return to health and put those numbers to shame.
"I'm a big competitor so I miss being out there with the offense," he said. "I've been doing a lot of work over there, catching a lot of balls, working on my cardio, so hopefully I don't miss a beat when I do come back."