After playing football and basketball at Northside High in Roanoke, Virginia, Hall signed with Tennessee, enrolled last week and began classes as a mid-term freshman. He’ll spend the spring practicing with Butch Jones’ Football Vols and probably feeling a little nostalgic as he watches Donnie Tyndall’s Basketball Vols. You see, Hall averaged 20 points and 10 rebounds per game on the hardwood before deciding his future lay on the gridiron.
“I used to play basketball,” he said, “but I stopped playing for (more time) lifting weights and everything.”
Imagining the burly Hall boxing out under the backboards is easy but that wasn’t his only role.
“I used to shoot a lot,” he said. “I was the 3-point shooter. I led the team in 3-point shooting for a couple of years.”
Surely, he wasn’t carrying 315 pounds up and down the court in those days, was he?
“About this size,” he answered matter-of-factly.
Naturally, opponents were surprised to see a guy his size draining shots from behind the arc.
“All the time,” he said, smiling broadly. “They always backed off, thinking I can’t shoot, and I’d just drain ‘em.”
Noting that basketball “helped a lot with my footwork and stuff,” Hall added that he also recorded “a couple of dunks.”
Electing to focus solely on football as a senior, he saw his plans sidetracked when he tore his Achilles tendon while playing defensive tackle in a benefit game last summer. As a result, he never got to play a down last fall.
“It really sucked,” he said. “Sitting out the whole season – watching my team play, me being a captain – was really hard. But I had to bounce back for my team and lead ‘em still.”
Although he earned first-team all-state honors on offense and defense as a junior in 2013, Hall is convinced his future in college is on the offensive line. He’s trying to learn all he can about leverage, hand placement and footwork between now and the start of spring drills.
“It is a big jump,” he conceded, “but we’ve been doing a lot of watching film and stuff. I’ve been trying to learn as much technique as I can with the time off we have right now…. I’ve learned a lot so far. I’ve taken lots of notes, and I’m asking lots of questions so I can get a feel for everything.”
Freshmen often require time to develop the aggressiveness needed to play college ball. Hall already has it, which is why he prefers offensive line to defensive line.
“I just like pancaking people,” he said with a laugh.
Tennessee’s starting offensive tackles in 2014 were a senior with a torn ACL (Jacob Gilliam) and a junior much better suited to guard (Kyler Kerbyson). Given this and Hall’s imposing size, he may get his first look at tackle this spring.
“We learn how to play every position in the offensive line,” he said, “so wherever they need me, I’m going to go.”
Hall, who turns 18 on May 27, says he already has bonded with several of Tennessee’s veteran offensive linemen. Foremost among his new friends is Coleman Thomas, a fellow Virginian (Max Meadows) who started five games at right tackle for the 2014 Vols.
A week into his college career, Hall has no regrets. He’s convinced Tennessee is the best decision he could have made.
“The whole atmosphere is just amazing,” he said. “I don’t know why anybody would choose anywhere else.”
Especially if you happen to be a 315-pounder with a deadly 3-point stroke.
Listen to more from another brand new Tennessee Volunteer as Jack Jones spoke with reporters Tuesday. Click play below to hear from the former Scout four-star offensive tackle.