Jalen Hall is used to competing on stacked teams.
The Los Angeles (Calif.) Augustus Hawkins squad he’s played his high school ball with has had four Division I signees the last two seasons, including a pair of top 100 talents in Joseph Lewis and Greg Johnson. Hall played with at least seven more Hawkins players that will likely sign with Division I programs in the next three years, including two more that are already ranked in the top 100 of the 2018 class.
He’s used to competition. Whether battling with Lewis, who finished as the No. 2 receiver in the country, or Johnson, who was one of the top corners on the West Coast, Hall is no stranger with facing off with the best.
But this offseason, he has a different competitor.
For the first time, when the Scout 300 rankings were updated, Hall was no longer the consensus No. 1 receiver — a position he has held since the 2018 class has been ranked, which dates back to when the now-6-foot-3, 186-pound five-star was in the eighth grade for some publications.
When the rankings were released, Hall’s name wasn’t at the top, but the name leading the list was familiar. It was his Premium Sports 7-on-7 teammate Amon-Ra St. Brown.
“It was kind of like 'Damn.' Like this is me, I'm No. 1, but he's a good player and he's my teammate,” Hall said of his reaction. “It is what it is. It's competition. We compete. That's what we do. It's my job to get it back. Then that's what I'm going to do. I'm going to try my hardest.
“I've just got to go harder. I've been going hard, but... I've been No. 1 since like eighth grade. He was just on it. You got somebody in front of you, he caught up. My job is just to get that back. I'm going to do what I've got to do.”
While Hall is competing with his 7-on-7 teammate, several schools are still battling for his college commitment. Earlier this spring, another school joined the lot of schools that have offered Hall a scholarship to play football. This school meant a little extra because it proved Hall’s success off the field as much as on it. Hall was particularly proud to receive an offer from Stanford.
“It meant a lot. It was great, especially because I was waiting for a minute,” Hall said. “Of course I've got [the abilities] on the field, but I had to make sure I had it in the classroom. I'm sure there's probably a lot of people thinking I wasn't going to get that one.“
But striving for an offer from the Cardinal wasn’t something Hall did to prove doubters wrong.
“I didn't do it because I care about what other people think, it was just to better myself.”
The Cardinal still face an uphill battle with several schools having been recruiting Hall for much longer, including the home town team up the street, USC. Hall is no stranger to the campus that his teammates Lewis and Johnson have signed with. He has stopped by for practices and games in the past and was on campus last month during the spring practice period to check out the Trojans in action.
“It was cool,” Hall said of the USC practice. “It was real fun talking to coaches and vibing with a lot of athletes that was there and recruits. Just really watching specifically what the receivers were doing and how Coach Tee Martin was coaching the receivers.”
Martin coached the receiver group different than in past seasons, according to Hall. With a number of young players vying for playing time, Martin was much tougher on the group, which is now without established veterans like Darreus Rogers and JuJu Smith-Schuster.
“They were younger dudes, so it was more mistakes, more than when JuJu was there. He really knew everything and he was on it,” Hall said. “I just could tell [Martin] was really on them like they have to be something special this year.
“When I see a coach that is really on them, I can tell he cares. He wants you to get better. When he sees you doing something wrong, he's telling you how to fix it. That's always something good.”
Like the young USC receiver group, Hall is working to improve his game and the best way he knows is through competition. His Premium Sports 7-on-7 team is stacked at receiver and the cluster of top-tier prospects playing together are constantly trying to one-up each other.
“All the time. At the same time, we're just trying to have fun and just compete. That's all we do,” Hall said. “Just having that team is a real blessing. That's a nice team — one of the best teams I've played on. It's fun just being able to compete. When we're at practice, we’re all just going against each other. It's always competition.”
So even though St. Brown has apprehended the top spot, Hall isn’t going to pull a Tonya Harding and break out a lead pipe? Hall laughs at the suggestion.
“Nah, man. That’s my guy.”
With Lewis headed to USC, Hall now has a new person to compare himself against every day of practice this offseason.
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