Andre Hal earned offers from Nebraska, Tulane, Miami (Ohio), Utah State and Louisiana-Monroe. He also had serious interest from Alabama, Georgia Tech and LSU.
What makes Hal such a great player? "The kid is a workaholic and he's a very, very high character young man," said Port Allen head coach Guy Blanchard. That means long hours in the weight room and on the practice field. Every summer Port Allen stages 32 vigorous off-season workouts and awards a special black shirt to denote players who complete every workout. "He's a three time black shirt winner in our program," said Blanchard.
As for character, the coach said that Hal is second to none in that area, "I promise you this, you'll never hear about him getting into disciplinary trouble or fighting. He's a very Christian young man. He is the highest morale character kid you can find."
When asked specifically what makes Hal a great player in the football field, Blanchard pointed out Hal's fine speed and 34 inch leaping ability. "The kid has great speed, he was on a 4 X 2 relay team which had a 1:25, which is about third nationally right now. It shattered a 20-year record in the state of Louisiana." Although not a speed burner, Hal possesses D.J. Moore type speed. He was clocked at Georgia Tech at 4.49 and 4.53. "He also ran a 4.51 at Alabama after a 2-hour practice. He's in great shape," said the coach.
Blanchard also noted Hal's vast experience playing the corner position, "The thing that separates him from a lot of kids is that he's been starting at cornerback for four years for me." Blanchard continued, "He took some lumps as a freshman and he [laughter] got burned and he missed some tackles. The great thing about the kid is that he learned a lot. By the time his sophomore year came around he was a seasoned veteran; he's just gotten better and better and better every year."
Blanchard also compared Hal to former Port Allen cornerback Tracy Porter who went on to play at the University of Indiana and for the New Orleans Saints. Blanchard says that Hal is often compared to Porter. The veteran coach pointed out that while both players have similar body builds, speed and coverage abilities, Hal has much more game experience, "Tracy only played two years of high school football."
Hal also played basketball at Port Allen until his sophomore year but didn't start. Blanchard shared an interesting story about a fine defensive performance by Hal in the state tournament. Port Allen hosted Madison, which had the state's leading scorer, in the quarterfinals and had gotten into trouble early, "They came in and in the first minute and 57 seconds that guy, the states leading scorer, scores 11 points and they were about to blow us out. Our coach called a timeout and put him [Hal] in the game on this kid man-to-man and the kid finished with 11 points."
Just how did Hal end up committing to Vanderbilt? Blanchard says that Hal told him that, "I want a place where it's not too cold and not too far," several schools fit that description but Vanderbilt actually came along later in the recruiting process. Blanchard says that a Vanderbilt coach came through in the spring and the Commodore assistant really liked Hal, telling him, "Coach, we have to evaluate everybody but we really like him." Later, after Vanderbilt offered, Hal approached Blanchard for advice as far as visits. Hal wanted to visit Vandy and several other schools including Alabama and Georgia Tech. Blanchard advised Hal to attend the Commodore staff's upcoming barbeque for offered prospects, telling him that there was really no reason to camp at VU, "That'll probably be a better day for you because you are not going there to show off your talent and get recruited. They've already offered you, they like you." Hal agreed and headed out to Vanderbilt. That Thursday evening coach Blanchard was in Gulf Shores, Alabama on a vacation with his family. As the coach was unloading baggage from his car he heard his cell phone ring. His wife begged him not to answer but the coach, seeing it was one of his players, insisted on answering, "I asked him, ‘how did it go?' and he said, ‘I committed.'" Coach Blanchard added, "I'm excited for him, we all are, it's a great opportunity for him."
Hal is likely to play corner at Vanderbilt but how else can Blanchard see him being utilized in Nashville? "I'm gonna tell you. He returns punts and kickoffs for us. He runs reverses on offense and catches a few passes on offense for us too… he's a dynamic player and if I can get the ball in his hands I'd look at it if I was Vandy." He added, "I think once they get to know this young man they are really going to like him. They are going to love him."
In closing the personable coach added about Hal, "we'll have a small group of LSU fans pulling for him except for one week out of the season. Me, I'll be pulling for him anyway."
Prep coach discusses Andre Hal
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