It's about ‘blocking and tackling' for Hall

Former college linebacker has adjusted well to life as a fullback. The second-year player appears secure as the Packers' lead blocker in the backfield.

Not many high school football camps allow full contact.

Good thing this one did. It would have been difficult for Korey Hall to get noticed elsewhere. At tiny Glenns Ferry High School — enrollment 300 — Hall wasn't offered a scholarship by any Division I schools.

But after Boise State's all-out, full-pads football camp allowed Hall's thirst for contact to shine, he got his expenses-paid ticket to Division I.

"I think that had a lot to do with me getting noticed," Hall said. "There was a lot blocking and tackling going on."

This ingrained "blocking and tackling" toughness elevated him to college football.

And now it's elevated him to a starting fullback in the pros.

After four years as a linebacker at Boise State, Green Bay drafted Hall as a fullback. The Packers saw an all-around, hard-nosed football player. Hall started 10 games last season, helping to key Ryan Grant's late-season heroics. Now in his second training camp, Hall said the position feels much more natural.

"Even more and more each day, I feel better," he said "I think the biggest difference is having the ball in your hands when you catch it out of the backfield. We don't really carry the ball here at fullback. Catching balls is something I'm starting to get more comfortable with."

The switch has been almost seamless. Hall is the primary man-to-man blocker in the Packers' zone-blocking scheme. While pulling linemen are mostly responsible for areas, Hall is the sniper that targets either a linebacker or a safety on each running play.

Running backs coach Edgar Bennett has been critical with this mental transition to fullback.

As a rookie, Hall unbelievably never encountered a defensive front he wasn't prepped to face. Hall said that each week, Bennett meticulously mapped out every possible defensive alignment, pinpointing who Hall needed to block in each one.

From there, it was just "blocking and tackling," — precisely what got him started in the first place. Elementary, fundamental, hit-ya-in-the-mouth football.

"At both positions, you have to be able to make contact, fit people up and block or tackle," Hall said. "There are small differences, but you're still making contact and trying to hang onto somebody. I think that's the carryover."

Hall never anticipated being a fullback in the NFL through college. A four-year starter at linebacker, Hall was a core special-teams ace on all four units. He introduced plenty of running backs to Boise State's bizarre blue field with 394 tackles in 52 games.

Linebacker was his ticket.

The possibility of being anything different arose at his pre-draft pro day, when coaches asked him to work out at fullback. Hall ran a few routes. Nothing major — more of a feeler than anything.

Hall held out hope a team would pick him up as an undrafted free agent linebacker. A scout from Miami told Hall the Dolphins might take him in the seventh round, but he didn't hold his breath.

Hall never was lucky enough to be a part of that infamous 1-15 team. The Packers plucked him 191st overall in the sixth round, with the intention of moving him to fullback, a spot vacated by William Henderson. The odds-on heir, Brandon Miree, sustained a stinger in early August and missed most of camp, while ‘tweener DeShawn Wynn was bogged down by multiple ailments. Suddenly, by default, Hall was vaulted into the starting role.

"I figured I was just going to come in and give it everything I had," Hall said. "Guys got hurt and I was able to get some reps at the starting spot by injury and never gave it up. It really worked out in my favor."

After a slow start, Green Bay's rushing attack became one of the league's best in the second half of the year. Grant was the league's second-leading rusher in the final 10 games, and Hall was a key reason why. His seal on E.J. Henderson opened up Grant's first touchdown as a Packer against Minnesota, and he was often the lead blocker in Grant's team-record 201-yard playoff performance against Seattle.

"I don't think Grant was that experienced, either, but we both progressed throughout the season. As you could tell, he started running really well toward the playoffs and made a lot of great plays. I thought toward the end of the season, I got more comfortable and did a better job."

This summer, Hall is hardly a black sheep anymore. He's a lifer at fullback. Although he may never get to carry the ball and he's not a huge receiving threat, Hall's assignment-sure blocking is too warm of a security blanket to keep on the sideline. The 6-foot, 243-pound fullback rarely slides off blocks or overruns his man. His initial body-to-body punch and latch-on have cleared plenty of running lanes.

Still, Hall realizes what got him here could send him to the pine. Any injury or sluggish play could open the door for someone else. Top backup John Kuhn showed promise last season, Corey White is a chic fullback/halfback combo and Ryan Powdrell (5-foot-11, 260 pounds) is a load.  

Hall's been an underdog his entire football career. Now he's the undisputed starter.

But the approach doesn't change.

"I think it's my job to lose, but it's a battle. I have to go out there every day and compete. The minute you let up and think you've arrived, that's when somebody is going to take your job."

Tyler Dunne is a regular contributor to and Packer Report magazine. E-mail him at

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