Most Important Buckeyes: No. 13
By Patrick Murphy
Photo by Jim Davidson
Jordan Hall ’s career for the Ohio State Buckeyes has been one more of frustration than anything else. The speedster out of Jeannette, PA came to Ohio State as an athlete and has spent most of his career looking for his role.
When he arrived in 2009, Hall – who was used a running back – sat behind Daniel “Boom” Herron and Brandon Saine. In his first two seasons combined, Hall carried the ball 85 times. In 2011, Hall benefited from the suspension of Herron to rack up 99 carries, yet saw his time slip once Boom was eligible again.
With the appointment of Urban Meyer as head coach before the 2012 season, there seemed to be new life breathed into Hall’s career. Meyer’s system required an elite athlete who could expose mismatches on the defense by lining up in various spots on the field and both carrying and catching the ball.
Hall had found and role and was set to be that playmaker, but a severe cut in his foot, which required surgery, kept him out of the first two games. Though he returned to play in the next three, Hall found himself out for the remainder of the season, after suffering a partial tear of his PCL against Michigan State.
Now, granted a fifth year of eligibility, Hall looks to put his frustrations behind him and finally become a factor for the Buckeyes’ offense. His speed, athleticism, and determination to prove himself make him an ideal candidate for the H back role in Meyer and offensive coordinator Tom Herman’s offense.
The importance of this position to the offense and Hall’s ability to fill the role are why the senior comes in at No. 13 on our list.
What Makes Him Important
In Meyer’s first spring in charge, the head coach referred to Ohio State’s offense as a “clown show,” yet singled out Hall as a bright spot.
Meyer is not ready to compare anyone to anyone to Percy Harvin, who made the position famous while at Florida, but Hall is one of the closest players to him on the Buckeyes’ roster. His quickness is undoubtedly his most important physical asset, but his experience may be more important.
During his three years in college, Harvin, now a receiver, had 133 receptions, but 194 carries. Hall will be expected to contribute in the passing game, but his time at running back will give him the experience needed to handle both duties.
What makes Hall special is the diversity he can provide the offense. Though Hall has not been a factor as a receiver for the Scarlet and Gray statistically – just 24 career receptions – he did play a similar role to his new one in high school.
Throughout the spring, Hall worked exclusively with the receivers in order to become familiar with the passing game and impressed the coaches with his catching ability in the process. He has become more familiar with the position and the requirements that come with it.
Hall can stretch the defense vertically, but his shiftiness and experience at running back makes him difficult to bring down in the open field. In the H back position, Hall will find himself with space frequently, which should be a terror to Big Ten defenses.
What Can Be Expected Of Him
The one thing that can be expected from Hall is the unexpected. It will not be often that number seven will lineup at the same place consecutively, nor will he likely stay in the position one he is set. Meyer will look to shift Hall around the offensive setup to keep the defenses guessing and create havoc.
Hall will be expected to take some of the carries that last year went to Carlos Hyde and Braxton Miller, but also expect Miller to look for Hall often through the air.
Wide receivers coach Zach Smith is excited about having Hall in his position group this year and what he can add to the offense.
“A versatile guy like that can help us in a number of ways,” Smith said.
“He's a smart football player, a talented football player… So we're really excited about the versatility he brings both as a ball carrier and a receiver. It's something that our offense likes to have, is a versatile guy that we can hand the ball to, throw the ball to. It's something that we've always had, and now it's great to have Jordan in that role.”
It would not be unreasonable for Hall to finish with over 50 carries and 50 reception this season because he will be asked to do so much. If the Buckeyes’ offense is going to take the next step in their evolution, Hall will be expected to turn these touches into big plays, as this was an issue for Ohio State last season.
“[Hall] will be a young man out there that plays at the right speed and makes very little mistakes,” said running backs coach Stan Drayton, who has worked with Hall in the past.
“He's a very functional, very smart football player. Without many reps, he can still be very productive for you.”
The production is what is most expected from Hall, as he gives the Buckeyes the dynamic playmaker they have been looking for.
What Would the Buckeyes Do Without Him
Last year, fans saw what happened when Hall was not available. The offense struggled at times to get going and finished 47th nationally with 423.75 yards per game.
The H back position was often occupied by Corey “Philly” Brown who had 60 receptions for 669 yards, but only carried the ball 10 times for 93 yards and had four total touchdowns.
If Hall were to miss time again this season, the offense would need someone to provide the spark. Brown would bring the most experience in the role at the collegiate level.
There is a lot of potential on the Ohio State roster in the incoming freshman that Meyer has recruited. With only one year of eligibility left for Hall, Meyer brought in high school playmakers Dontre Wilson, Jalin Marshall, and Ezekiel Eliott. Based on raw talent alone, these guys would be considered if it weren’t for Hall.
In fact, Wilson has already showed Meyer enough to believe that he will play this season for the Buckeyes, yet it is hard to count on a true freshman in such a vital position.
Playing in front of 102,000 fans for the first time is a lot of pressure on any player. Doing that while playing one of the most important positions on the offense could be catastrophic.
Without Hall, Meyer would probably be forced to start one of the talented, but inexperienced freshmen at the H back and hope that they develop quickly.
With Hall, not only do they get the explosive player OSU missed last year, but they also are able to let the next crop of playmakers learn and adjust before stepping into the bright lights.