Holding a 35-0 halftime lead on Senior Night, the Los Angeles (Calif.) Augustus Hawkins coaching staff was content to remove some of its younger stars and allow some of its less heralded seniors an opportunity to shine.
2018 five-star receiver Jalen Hall couldn’t get out of his pads any quicker.
“He said, 'You're done. Let the seniors play.' So it was all good. I’m not a stingy player,” Hall said. “ It was their night to shine and most of them did, so I didn't mind sitting out to let a senior play. It's their day.”
He spent the rest of the game dancing and laughing with his teammates on the sideline. Hall didn’t have a monster game in his one half of action, but he did have a 59-yard reception that got Hawkins down to the 1-yard line to set up a touchdown run by senior Jonathan Branch.
The 6-foot-3, 186-pound wideout, who is currently the top receiver in the nation and the No. 6 overall prospect in the 2018 class, did get in the end zone, taking a wide receiver screen 14 yards for a touchdown. But with the game never in doubt and a perfect regular season record of 10-0 locked up, the coaches were taking no chances with Hall, especially after his receiving partner in crime, Joseph Lewis — the top receiver in the 2017 class — recently fractured his ankle.
Lewis’ absence has meant more attention being paid to Hall.
“All I know is I have to go harder now,” Hall said. “We're missing a top recruit, a top receiver on the team. That most definitely makes a difference, so now I know I got more balls coming my way and I just got to snatch them all.”
The hope is that Lewis may be able to return in the middle of the playoffs, if Hawkins can make a lengthy run. “Our goal is to go 16-0,” Hall said. If they get to 13 or 14 wins, Lewis may be able to come back and become a frightening addition for the Hawks.
While the Hawkins coaches didn’t want to use Hall much on Friday night, there are many, many college coaches that are hoping to be able to use him as much as possible. The recruiting process has started to speed up for Hall with more schools actively chasing after him, but he is making every effort to slow it down. He wants to find out every detail about the schools that are showing interest.
“Really find out everything about the schools, see if I could see myself there and how I could fit into the offense and if I could really trust the coaches or how they could make me a better player and get me to where I need to be.”
Attention has come from all over the country with Big 10 rivals Ohio State and Michigan two of the scholarship offers standing out. The Ohio State offer caught Hall by surprise since the Buckeyes don’t come to Southern California for too many recruits.
“Yea that's why I was interested. I'm like, 'Okay.' But I plan to take a visit down there and see how it is. I've been to Michigan before. I'll probably go down there again, but Ohio State I'll for sure go down there and see how it is.”
Hall also mentioned Washington State and Arizona State as two schools pursuing him and said he’s in consistent contact with the college that is right down the street — USC, which is less than three miles away from Hawkins High. Hall has been in attendance for multiple USC home games this season and called his trips to the Coliseum “a cool experience.”
“I watch JuJu [Smith-Schuster] a lot. You know he's been out there dominating,” Hall said. “I also see that they have a lot of receivers that are sitting, but that is nothing. If I was to go there, I would compete and start.”
The USC coaches want Hall to be a regular on campus and in the Coliseum. He continues to be one of their top priorities amongst underclassman.
Hall said the Trojans talk to him about “coming down there every time for a game, watching and see how I can fit in.”
“When I talk to them, they let me know I would for sure be a difference maker there. Of course, competition is always going to be something. That's every college you go to. But [the conversation has] just been about a lot of football and how USC is the place for me. Of course, every coach will say that about their school.
“It all comes down to the coaches. They've got to make me believe that's where I need to be and if USC is the place I need to be, then I'll be there.”
Watch isolation highlights of Jalen Hall, below, from Friday night's win over Manuel Arts:
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