Monday, January 28, 2013
Triple threats: Jordan Hall
By Austin Ward
Everybody is chasing the elite recruits, and championships aren't usually won unless there's a pretty impressive constellation of four- and five-star athletes on a roster.
But those guys also aren't typically solely responsible for taking a program to the next level, and it can often come down to which coaching staffs properly identify and develop the players without as much buzz coming out of high school -- or the ones intent on proving those doubts wrong at the next level.
BuckeyeNation will look at five of those players on the Ohio State roster that will be key to making a title run, all of them capable of outplaying that three-star label.
Jordan Hall wasn't an elite recruit, but he has already made his mark on Ohio State despite injury.
Who: The senior running back was forced to redshirt due to a pair of injuries that limited him to just three games in a season that had once held a lot of promise for the projected starter in the backfield. He was productive in his two complete outings, rushing for 192 yards on 34 carries in nonconference wins over California and UAB, and with plenty of time to heal and the decision made to return, he'll once again have a shot at playing a significant role for the Buckeyes before leaving campus.
Then: There were some questions about his durability when he signed back in 2009 out of Jeannette (Pa.) High School, though his relative lack of size when he was listed at 5-foot-9, 180 pounds certainly had no impact on the fluke injury he suffered last summer when he cut his foot on a piece of glass and required surgery that kept him out of training camp and the first two games. The scouting report praised his ability to hit the hole decisively, make defenders miss and his hands -- and with a potential role as a hybrid weapon available for him in Urban Meyer's spread offense, that last trait could be critical.
They said it: "Hall may have played in the shadow of Terrelle Pryor last year but is a good player in his own right and a versatile running back prospect. ... Overall, Hall is a well-rounded back that will be highly sought after because of his versatility as a runner. Projects best in a zone-read type offense, similar to what he played in at high school, which will utilize his quickness and soft hands in space. Skills in the return game add to his upside." -- RecruitingNation in 2009
Now: Elected a captain even while battling through his freak injury a year ago, Hall's work ethic and experience will again provide veteran leadership and help set the tone for the Buckeyes. He isn't likely to take back the starting gig that Carlos Hyde flourished in down the stretch last season, with the bigger, more bruising rusher forming a dynamic one-two punch with quarterback Braxton Miller and piling up touchdowns in the red zone. But Meyer had plans for using both of them in the backfield with Miller before injuries scrapped them, and Hall can do some things as a receiver that will bring some variety to the offense and another element of danger for a unit already returning almost every starter from the Big Ten's most explosive offense.