Tuesday, March 5, 2013

OSU SPRING PRACTICE: JORDAN HALL FINDS A NEW SPOT ... IN THE SLOT

Jordan Hall
TBT/Darla Dunkle-Hudnell
COLUMBUS — Jordan Hall has played tailback ever since he stepped on campus as a freshman at Ohio State in the fall of 2009.

In four seasons with the Buckeyes, Hall has toted the rock 224 times for 1,032 yards and six touchdowns. He has speed, toughness, wiggle, and although he possesses a smaller frame (5-9, 195), Hall can run with power and tenacity.

However, the 2012 college football season wasn't too kind to the dynamic runner out of Jeannette (Pa.), as he suffered a foot injury prior to fall camp which resulted in missing the opening two games of the year against Miami (OH) and Central Florida.

After returning to the field in the third week of the season against California, Hall looked as if he hadn't missed a single rep, rushing for 192 yards (5.6 avg.) in back-to-back wins against Cal and Alabama-Birmingham. 

It appeared as if the senior was about to hit his stride.

But during a week five tilt in East Lansing against Michigan State, bad luck struck again. In the second quarter of the Buckeyes' 17-16 victory over the Spartans, Hall went down with a knee injury which ended his season, and at the time, his career in Columbus. But fortunately for Hall, the NCAA granted the Pennsylvania-native with a medical red-shirt, meaning that he would be eligible to play a fifth season with the Buckeyes.

However, with the emergence of tailback Carlos Hyde, as well as the promising play of underclassmen Rod Smith and Bri'onte Dunn, it seemed as if there wasn't a place for Hall in the Buckeyes' crowded backfield.

Of course, that reality isn't going to prevent Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer from finding a place for Hall in his high-octane offensive attack. Meyer is all about playing his very best players, and Hall is certainly one of his elite talents.

So, the Buckeyes coach has moved Hall from tailback to H-back (slot receiver), and during Tuesday's opening practice of the spring, it appears to be another fantastic decision by Meyer.

Hall was an absolute mismatch for defenders all day long in scrimmage drills, and highlighted the practice by hauling in a pass over the middle from quarterback Braxton Miller for a 40-yard touchdown.

Meyer was extremely pleased with not only Hall's performance Tuesday, but also how well he has dealt with transitioning to a brand new position.

"Boy, (Hall) was big today," Meyer said, following practice on Tuesday at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center in Columbus. "I thought he was great today. I've got to be careful. I start to love players too much and it gets me in trouble, but I love that guy. He didn't bat an eye, (he's like) let's go play."

Hall has displayed an ability to help in the passing game during his career, hauling in 24 receptions for 233 yards and four touchdowns in his time in Columbus. 

By the look of things Tuesday, that production may double this fall.

MILLER'S WORK LOOKS TO BE PAYING OFF ... Junior quarterback Braxton Miller has worked diligently this off-season on his passing mechanics and footwork, and those on-hand during Tuesday's opening practice noticed supreme improvement from a season ago.

That includes his head coach, as well.

"I thought Braxton Miller had one heck of a day," Meyer said. "I mean one heck of a day. His fundamentals and his footwork were not very good last year, but it was fantastic today."

Miller, who logged a school-record 3,310 yards of offense as a sophomore in 2012, is a major Heisman Trophy contender in 2013 and looked the part in the Buckeyes' first outing of the spring.

PHILLY BROWN GOES DOWN WITH KNEE ... Ohio State's leading receiver last fall, Corey "Philly " Brown, was removed from practice Tuesday after suffering a knee injury.

Fortunately, MRI results showed it to be a sprain. Meyer expects Brown to be back for the Buckeyes' second practice on Thursday.