Two weeks ago, Ohio State offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson was speaking with reporters to provide updates on his tight end room and discuss all of the great things that the Buckeye offense is on schedule to do this year. About 10 minutes in, he was asked if there was anybody on the defensive line that had caught his eye.
“About 12 of them,” he said.
“I always laugh when Mike Hall goes out there as a three,” Wilson said. “I mean, come on dude. Geez, that’s as good a three as I ever saw in my life. He ain’t no three. I mean they’re deep and they just keep coming at you in waves and they just keep coming over the walls.”
In the times when media has been permitted to watch practice, Hall has stood out. To no surprise, he has also stood out in the absence of media.
As camp went on, Mike Hall became a popular topic of conversation. Whether it was intel or his own teammates speaking highly of him, the secret was out.
“Well, he’s not with the threes,” defensive line coach Larry Johnson said of Wilson’s comments a few days later. “That was just in jest, I think. You’ve got to read what he was saying, in jest. He has been a three to start out because of the guys, but he’s no longer in the threes.
“Mike’s worked with the ones and twos, and he’s got a chance to do something really special for us. He’s had a great camp for us, he really has. Mike has come out, he’s really gotten stronger, and he’s gotten bigger. He’s fast, he’s athletic, and we’re hoping for great things for Mike, we really are.”
Out of the four defensive linemen that the Buckeyes signed last year, Hall was the only one who redshirted. He played in four games and finished with two tackles and a half a tackle for loss.
With the redshirt season out of the way, there is no longer a need to keep Hall off the field. And based on Johnson’s opinion of him, that should be music to Buckeye fans’ ears.
“I think his biggest asset is that he can rush the passer,” Johnson said. “I mean he’s really got quick hands, quick body, we can move him at the three-technique, and he can rush from there at times.”
Hall has been developing into an all-around defensive tackle. Being able to rush the passer is great, but as a nose tackle, he needs to be able to stop the run first.
Each day will bring about improvement, and when Larry Johnson describes Hall’s abilities, he can’t help but think back to a few talented nose tackles of the recent past.
“So we’ve got to plan how we’re going to use him, but I think he has a little bit of (DaVon Hamilton and Tommy Togiai in him),” Johnson said. “He’s really quick off the line of scrimmage, scary in space when he’s in short space, small areas where can get off the ball. I think that’s huge, a little bit BB (Landers) like, but stronger. But he also brings some pass rush technique that I think is incredible.”