Forgotten Buckeye Wants Season to Remember
By Patrick Muphy
On Monday, Urban Meyer spoke about his team during a game week for the first time in 2013. The head coached mentioned many popular names: Braxton Miller, Ryan Shazier, and Dontre Wilson to name a few.
Photo by Dan Harker
One player that he discussed, who seems to be the forgotten Buckeye, is Jordan Hall. Not only did Meyer bring up the fifth-year senior, but he endorsed him as the top running back on the team.
“Jordan Hall looks better than he ever has,” Meyer told the media.
“[He] is the best running back on our team right now so he’ll have to lose that spot,” he then said later.
For the best running back on the number-two team in the country, Hall has had very little hype leading into his final season of eligibility.
Most of the discussion at running back has surrounded the suspension of Carlos Hyde and Rod Smith. When people look who will carry the ball with them out, the names tend to go to the unproven Bri’onte Dunn, Warren Ball, and Ezekiel Elliott.
True freshman Dontre Wilson has been discussed more for the H-back role than Hall, who has been penciled in as the starter since Meyer took over at Ohio State.
Even in our own countdown, Hall only finished at No. 13 for the Most Important Buckeyes for 2013.
This is likely because Hall has been absent from the Buckeyes lineup for the better part of a year. Hall only played in three games last year and never was able to get things into gear.
Photo by Jim Davidson
“When I cut my foot, I missed the whole summer workouts,” Hall said.
“The whole camp, and then practiced two days and then played against Cal. So I felt like my body wasn't really trained, and that's why I got hurt again in the Michigan State game.”
His injuries may have made some fans forget about the playmaker, but they may be just thing Hall needed to have a monster final season at Ohio State.
“I'm just ready to play,” Hall said at Ohio State’s Media Day. “I'm trying to play. I haven't played in spring ball, I didn't play last season. The spring before that was the last time I really played. I'm just trying to play.”
The injury gave Hall a new perspective on football and made him appreciate the game that much more. It made him realize he needs to take advantage of this last year and make the best of it.
“I just told myself that I would never take anything for granted,” he said. “I know I keep saying that. It was hard watching the team last year every game. So every time I’m in, it’s going to be 100% go.”
There is reason to be excited for the likes of Wilson and the other freshmen, but there was a time when Hall was the incoming speedster who was looking to make plays for the Buckeyes.
“Coming out of high school, I always knew that I could be a playmaker anywhere I wanted to go,” Hall said. “I just have to prove it to everybody else. We’re here now. It’s the last year so we’ve got to go."
This sense of finality is something that happens to every player as they reach the end of their college career. They realize that they only have so much time left at their school and they must take advantage.
For Hall, who only has had one full season as a starter for Ohio State, there is still a lot he wishes to accomplish.
“I’ll play anywhere they put me, I just want to be on the field and help us win,” he said recently.
This desire to contribute to something special – not be an onlooker from the sidelines – will drive Hall all season, but that will not be the only thing. The potential talent Ohio State now has at his position not only provides depth, but also pushes those in the front of the pack to work harder to keep their spot.
At every position on the field now, there’s players everywhere,” Hall said. “Coach Meyer did a good job recruiting and players got better in the offseason. So you can’t really take a day off any time.”
“I think it makes all of us better,” Hall said about the skill of the running backs.
“I mean, we know the next guy is just as good, if not better, so we know it’s a competition and if you do one thing, the next guy can go in and Coach Meyer says, you can never get your job back because that’s how good everyone is in the room.”
Meyer said in the opener, many guys will get an opportunity and this includes the crowded backfield.
“Bri’onte Dunn and Warren Ball are the next two in and we want to get Ezekiel Elliott in to see how he responds in that kind of environment,” Meyer said on Monday. “Same with Dontre Wilson, will lineup in some tailback positions.”
The coaching staff wants to see what they have in their young players, but this does not mean Hall will not be the featured back. As Meyer said, this is Hall’s spot to lose and that is not because he is the most senior player on the group.
When Hyde and Smith return from suspension, they will both have to earn their spot on the depth chart. It will not be given back just because they were one and two last season.
Hall has spent much of the offseason working with the wide receivers in order to improve his ability in the H-back, but he has not been disregarded as a running back either. In order to be successful in the position, Hall needs to be good at both.
“You're like a slot receiver, even though you do motion in the backfield a lot,” Hall said of the position. “There's a couple of deep routes there as well. I'm just excited.”
From what the coaching staff has said, fans will see Hall lineup up in the backfield on Saturday, as well as other areas of the field.
What can a motivated Jordan Hall bring to the 2013 Buckeyes? He believes he makes the offense that much more dangerous.
I think it can bring a lot of things,” Hall said about when he’s on the field. “I think it puts another playmaker on the field and with all the other playmakers we’ve already got, it’s going to be tough for a defense to be ready for all that.”
Fans may be ready to turn to newer, shinier players in the preseason. The hype may be focused on other guys, but the coaches know who their guy will be.
“He’s a tailback at Ohio State,” Meyer said of Hall.
“He’s earned that right.”