Thursday, August 11, 2011

HALL FINDS HIMSELF IN A WILDCARD ROLE WITH CROWDED OSU BACKFIELD

(From left) Jordan Hall, Dan Herron and Rod Smith
TBT/Joe Stueve
COLUMBUS — It's a crowded backfield for the Ohio State Buckeyes going into the 2011 season. Even with starting senior Dan "Boom" Herron suspended for the opening five games, Ohio State's stable of running backs aren't a cause for concern.

Plenty of talent resides in Carlos Hyde, Rod Smith and Jaamal Berry as each have seen a lot of action while running with the starters during the first week of camp. But Jordan Hall is playing the role of the wildcard, according to receivers coach Stan Drayton.

"(Hall) is going to be very versatile both in the run-game and the pass-game," Drayton said Thursday. "He creates so many different matchup problems for defenses when we put him out there in the slot."

Some Buckeye fans might not realize this, but Hall was second on the team with 985 all-purpose ground yards last season. Hall also scored four different ways: rushing, receiving, throwing and returning.

And as Ohio State deals with an inexperienced wide receiver corp, Hall is getting a chance to make an impact through the air. Last year's starters Dane Sanzenbacher (NFL) and DeVier Posey (five-game suspension) started all 13 games in 2010.

Drayton said Hall is still labeled as a running back, but the junior has all the tools to make his presence felt at wideout.

"(Hall) is being cross-trained to do a lot for us, including the special teams, returns and all that stuff," Drayton said. "If he continues at the rate he's going right now, I believe he can be one of the most versatile players in college football."

Drayton, who is serving his first year on Ohio State's staff after spending 2010 as the University of Florida's running backs coach, said Hall reminds him of Gators tailback/receiver Jeff Demps — a player known as one of the most explosive athletes in college football.

"(Hall) is just really natural in understanding coverage and can avoid re-routes by linebackers," he said. "You get a guy like that in space matched up with a linebacker, you got to be feeling like something good is going to happen."