Hall Declares Himself Fully Healthy

OSU senior tailback Maurice Hall is back in the fold after undergoing off-season surgery on both knees. Click here for more on Hall and his hopes for his senior season.

If the standard Ohio State football fan has forgotten about Maurice Hall, the senior tailback plans to provide them a refresher course this fall.

The 5-10, 205-pound Hall is back on the field for the Buckeyes for his senior year after enduring a rough 2003 season. Hall ended up with just 316 yards on 97 carries. Worn down by bad knees, Hall had just eight carries over OSU's final six games.

"I expected to have a big year coming in, but my injury prevented that," said Hall, who underwent surgery on both knees after the season and missed spring ball. "The longer the season went on, the worse it got and the less I played. That dampened my spirits a little bit, but I feel good. I think everything happens for a reason.

"I'm going to get out there and show what I can regardless. I don't think people have forgotten. If they have, I'll have to show them."

Hall discussed the nature of his injuries and recovery.

"I had a tear in both my knees," he said. "I'm happy. I got a chance to rest it during the spring and summer. Coming back now, I feel good and it's going to be all right."

Hall, a product of nearby Columbus Brookhaven, discussed being able to get back on the field at the beginning of preseason camp last week.

"It was exciting to get back out here, especially since I didn't do spring ball," he said. "I was excited to get back out here and run around and cut a little bit. I felt good."

The landscape has changed at tailback. Senior Lydell Ross returns as the starter. But Hall must compete with true freshmen Erik Haw and Antonio Pittman to serve as Ross' backup. That battle figures to heat up this week as the Buckeyes go to full pads.

"Everybody wants to show what they can do, especially the freshmen coming in," Hall said. "That's when you see who's going to be a player for you and who isn't going to be a player for you. Once we get the pads on, we'll know."

"I think they're young," Hall added on the newcomers. "They're eager to learn. It's a positive for our offense. They're just going to go in and learn as much as they can and do the best they can. They look good."

Besides Hall and Ross, fullback Branden Joe also comes back for his senior year. With untested players at quarterback and wide receiver, Hall said he would not be surprised if the Buckeyes lean on the running game.

"We have a veteran running back corps coming back," he said. "They may want to focus more on the running game."

Hall was instrumental in OSU's 2002 national championship season, tallying 370 yards and four touchdowns as he joined Ross in backing up oft-injured starter Maurice Clarett. With this being his final year, Hall would like to see the Buckeyes make another run.

"We have the talent to step up, just like any other year," he said. "I think if we get that chemistry down, we should be all right."

Backs Coming Along

Hall and the rest of the running backs have a new coach to impress this year in Dick Tressel, head coach Jim Tressel's brother as well as a former head coach at Division III Hamline University.

"We are healthier now than we've been," Dick Tressel said of his backs. "We have all the guys on the practice field ready to go."

Here were his thoughts on several players and topics:

* Ross pushing for a big senior year -- "He should be raring to go. He should be excited. All of those situations he's been in should have helped him grow. He should be exciting because he has prepared properly. He can just let his talents take over."

* Using Joe as a tailback and single back -- "We want to use all these guys' talents. Branden Joe brings a lot of them to the table. If you look at our testing charts, he's at the top of them."

* Hall's return to action -- "Maurice Hall is a skilled athlete. He has shown it in big games and scored a winning touchdown against Michigan, little things like that. He is a guy who knows what to do and knows how to do it. To have a guy like that on the football field, he raises everybody's play."

* The newcomers, Haw and Pittman -- "We would hope that they would push and be there and challenging. Their biggest challenge is realizing everybody is here and focusing mentally to handle big-time college football. Today, we threw them all in there and they all had a great time."

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