Arkelon Hall: Strong armed and strong willed

<b>Arkelon Hall, one of the earliest verbal commits in Washington State's 2005 recruiting class and widely considered among the elite quarterback prospects in the nation, is nothing if not a man of conviction. To call his pledge to ol' Wazzu solid would be an understatement of immense proportion. Just ask Nick Saban, Urban Meyer or any number of other college coaches.

Arkelon Hall verballed to the Cougars back in May, doing an end run on many California pundits who had him ticketed for UCLA. But other schools kept pursuing the four-star signal caller from Fresno's Edison High. Regardless who came calling, though, the answer was always the same: No thanks, I'm a Cougar.

LSU, the defending national champions, pushed hard. There was also Cal, Utah, Arizona and others.

"After I committed to Washington State, LSU started talking to me," said Hall. "Cal came up to the school. Arizona. Utah. A couple other schools kept talking to me. LSU was coming at me hard -- they came at me the hardest."

Nick Saban, then coach of the Tigers, wanted Hall to come down for a visit.

An all expenses paid weekend down to Bayou country? To go visit with the defending national champions?

How could an 18-year-old turn that down?

Easy, says the 6-2, 204-pound Hall.

He and his father crafted a one-page statement telling those other schools that, while he appreciated their interest, he was off the market.

"Me and my dad, we just made out a list of reasons," said Hall. "I had made a commitment. We just let everybody know I was a Cougar, that I was proud to be a Cougar. I just told them I keep my word."

That meant staying in touch on a regular basis with the other incoming commitments on the Cougars' list.

HALL IS SAID TO have a dynamic personality, that he's a natural leader. Five minutes after they met at the WSU summer camp, Hall and fellow future Cougar Shelton Danzy felt like they'd been lifelong friends.

"It was like were brothers from the start," said Danzy of meeting Hall in Pullman this past June. "I got to camp, coach (Timm) Rosenbach introduced me to Hall and it was like I'd known this kid forever."

In two seasons as a starter, Hall threw for 56 TDs and nearly 5,000 yards.

It's amusing to think of it now but coming into the year, many recruiting gurus weren't sure just how strong an arm Hall had. He was seen as a quarterback who had uncanny accuracy and touch, outstanding mechanics, a quick release and great pocket presence. But arm strength was a question in some minds. Those questions were dispelled immediately at the preseason camps and combines.

After a couple appearances at the camps, Hall suddenly became known for having "a gun for an arm" and "a cannon". The quarterback was quickly hailed as someone who "has all the throws."

HALL ALSO MAKES all the throws on the baseball diamond -- he's a star pitcher and third baseman -- so much so that Major League scouts have taken an interest. But the boys of summer will have to take a backseat. Hall's passion is football, and he's decided he won't be playing baseball his senior year.

"I had some scouts that were looking at me but I have a (WSU) scholarship now," said Hall. "I'm looking at that. And I got hit in the eye last year, had to get stitches around my eye -- I just didn't want anything to happen before I go to Washington State."

WHEN HE GOES TO Pullman, he'll be following in the footsteps of Michael Bumpus. Hall will be arriving early.

One reason Bumpus felt so comfortable in fall camp was his early arrival -- he reported in mid-July and spent every spare moment with his nose stuck in the playbook. Hall will also be arriving early this year, along with a number of other future Cougars.

"I'm so excited," said Hall. "I wanted to come up really early but they said to go and have fun (this summer) and come up about mid-July. So I'll probably head up to Pullman about then."

The Cougar Nation can't wait.

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