The 2012 season was supposed to be a big one for Jordan Hall. Not only was Hall entering what was supposed to be his senior campaign, but he was looked upon to provide Urban Meyer a playmaking threat from the H-back/hybrid position made famous by several players – including the dynamic Percy Harvin – in Meyer's offenses at Utah and Florida.
Unfortunately for Hall, that never materialized. Hall cut his foot when he stepped on a piece of glass in a freak summer accident, one that led to surgery that sidelined him for the Buckeyes' preseason camp. Hall missed the first two games of the season but showed some spark on offense until a partially torn PCL in his right knee suffered in the Big Ten opener at Michigan State ended his season.
Hall finished the season with 218 yards rushing on 40 carries with a touchdown and three receptions for 31 yards. More importantly, Hall ended the year with hopes of getting an appeal for a medical redshirt approved, which happened in January.
"It is awesome," OSU running back coach Stan Drayton said of having Hall back. "What you have there is on-the-field experience and you have some good leadership. Jordan brings an unbelievable amount of toughness to the program. It is a luxury, no doubt about it."
So now Hall is in the midst of the second final spring of his collegiate career. He impressed during the first practice of the spring two weeks ago, showing off his elusiveness in front of the gathered media at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center.
More impressively is that Hall has not finished learning the ins and outs of his new position. When asked what comes to his mind when someone says "hybrid back," Hall was at a loss.
"I really don't know," Hall said. "I'm really trying to find out for myself right now. Hopefully I can tell you that in about a week."
Hall was limited during Tuesday's practice because of a minor hamstring injury, an ailment that limited Hall to "80 percent" according to Meyer. While it kept him away from some drills, Hall has been eagerly looking forward to taking advantage of what his new position will entail – primarily not having to battle through big front sevens as a pure tailback any longer.
"Usually when you catch the ball as a receiver there are two people to make miss," Hall said. "As a running back, you have to run through a D-line, linebackers and safeties.
"I figure I can make two people miss."
While Hall said he is learning the position, it isn't entirely new to him. The Jeannette, Pa., product said he played in the slot some in high school.
"It's just different going against a college defense instead of a high school defense," he said. "It's not really new, but it's kind of new."
Drayton described the Ohio State offense as being at 60 percent effectiveness last season, and having Hall at the hybrid spot will only help make that number go up – and hopefully for the Buckeyes the point totals.
"The one thing about Jordan Hall, you look at his stature – he looks small, but the kid is a 400-pound bencher, he is 200 pounds, he is quick as a hiccup and he can make you miss in space," Drayton said. "And if you have a poor angle on him or you hit him the wrong way, he's going to break a tackle.
"You have a kid that you can put in space that has all these talents that are versatile, and you're just trying to put it into one system. He is a valuable threat in a significant player in this system."
And what's the important of having a player who can make guys miss like Hall can?
"You're going to see the offense work in its full function now," Drayton said. "We are going to be able to displace defenders, get those linebackers out of the box and maybe for a defense to chance personnel by putting more DBs on the field instead of linebackers. People can't just hone in on just a quarterback or just our running backs. They will have other people who are in the formation that they have to worry about. It is going to be significantly different."