It’s difficult to think of Jordan Hall in Scarlet and Gray without also thinking of his former Jeannette, Pennsylvania running-mate, Terrelle Pryor. In spite of Pryor’s crash landing before his senior year even got started, he was ultra-successful as a three-year starting quarterback for Ohio State. Hall has yet to make that kind of mark on the program, but his day is coming.
The differences between the two young men are abundant. Pryor landed in Columbus with the recruiting class of 2008 as a five-Star quarterback and the number-one recruit in the country. He chose Ohio State over the likes of Rich Rodriguez’s Michigan Wolverines and Chip Kelly’s Oregon Ducks, both of whom employed offenses that fit Pryor’s strengths and skill set perfectly. Jordan Hall came to The Ohio State University the following year as a four-star Athlete with no national ranking attached to his name. He turned down offers from Michigan and Notre Dame, as well as home-state offers from Penn State and Pitt. At the time he wasn’t a coveted commodity. He was Pryor’s old buddy from the neighborhood.
Pryor was 6’6” 235-pounds entering Ohio State and ran a 4.4-second 40-yard dash. From the very start he was compared to former Texas quarterback Vince Young in every college football circle in America. Texas head coach Mack Brown went so far in 2009 as to tell his counterparts on a Big-12 coaches teleconference that, “Before (Pryor) leaves Ohio State, he’ll lead them to a national championship. He’s that kind of player.”
If you look up Pryor’s recruiting page over at Rivals you’ll see that he was compared to a few other future talents, aside from Young, before he came to the Buckeyes – Robert Griffin III (Baylor commit) and Darron Thomas (Oregon commit) – both of which went on to similar stellar college careers.
Jordan Hall wasn’t drawing the same praise or lofty comparisons. A quick glance at his Rivals scouting report shows he was ‘similar to’ Donavan Tate, who went on to drug suspensions while playing for – the San Diego Padres – and Dexter Pratt, who went on to Oklahoma State to record multiple – arrests.
Instead, Hall arrived in Columbus planted firmly behind Brandon Saine and Boom Herron on the depth chart. He was battling Jaamal Berry for next in line. He wasn’t a super star or a savior for the program. He was Pryor’s pal from Jeannette.
In Pryor’s three seasons in Columbus he accounted for 8,341 total yards and SEVENTY-SIX touchdowns. Jordan Hall, in his first three seasons as a Buckeye? 1,036 total yards from scrimmage and eleven touchdowns. Total.
But something happened last November that has taken Hall from a serviceable Ohio State running back to a future with potential beyond anything any of us might have believed when he was an incoming freshman three years ago:
Urban Meyer was hired as the 24th head football coach in Ohio State history, and with him came a bucket full of experience turning athletic potential into million-dollar contracts.
We’ve all heard about Meyer’s success at Florida developing Percy Harvin into pro-level talent. But he didn’t just match his play-calling for Harvin enough to make him a Florida star. He literally turned him into star quality talent for the NFL level. Harvin’s sophomore numbers under Meyer bettered those of Hall’s career totals above. He topped them again as a junior. But that’s not as bad as it sounds for our senior running back.
Upon Meyer’s arrival in Columbus, and subsequent evaluation of the talent he had on his new roster, Hall quickly became the piece of the puzzle that Meyer would fit into the Harvin mold as a Buckeye. That’s a position and ‘title’ that Hall earned, but that, of course, was also before the injury.
When Hall went down two weeks ago with an unfortunate laceration and torn tendon in his foot while walking barefoot through grass, the program paused for a moment waiting on word of his condition and timeline for return. Coach Meyer, not one to pass out random, undeserved praise, called the injury ‘unfortunate’ before saying, “That was a tough injury. He’s on my leadership committee. He’s come so far. The guy’s tremendous.”
This is the same kid who entered the program with zero fanfare and even less as far as expectations. Many thought he was a delayed package-deal – an Ohio State promise to Terrelle Pryor – when he arrived a year after TP from the same home town. Now he’s ‘tremendous.’ More importantly, he’s our Percy Harvin.
Statistically speaking, Terrelle Pryor is probably the best quarterback in Ohio State history. He came with talent, hype and an unmatched desire to win. Despite everything you might hear, or assume, Pryor was a winner. He was, and is, a tireless worker. But he got in his own way enough that he missed his final year in Columbus, the one that could have propelled him into a promising NFL career as Cam Newton’s final season did for him. Now he’s sitting dormant on the Oakland Raiders depth chart behind starter Carson Palmer and off-season pick up Matt Leinart. Yes, Matt Leinart was brought into an organization to sit comfortably ahead of TP on a depth chart.
For Hall, his future is limitless. He’s got some rehab and recovery time ahead of him and his timeline is still a bit unsure. The hope is that he will return for the week-three match-up with Cal in the Horseshoe, giving him two games of work ahead of a huge Big Ten opener in East Lansing. But that isn’t etched in stone as we all collectively hold our breath to see how quickly his torn tendon actually heals.
One thing is for certain, though. When he does return, whether it be week-three against the Golden Bears, or a few weeks later during Big Ten play, Urban Meyer is going to maximize his talent, output and NFL Draft sock. For all intents and purposes, this is Hall’s contract-year. He isn’t playing for a BCS birth or possible National Championship. He’s playing for a spot in April’s draft. He’s playing for a bigger contract. He’s playing for Jeannette, Pennsylvania with hopes that he’ll be the proud son of a town who had all of their hopes rested on the broad shoulders of the Raiders’ third string quarterback.
Pryor isn’t as beloved anymore – like he was before the controversy around Columbus started – and his career path doesn’t have quite the same shine as it did at one point. Jordan Hall, even with his immediate future still in question, is limited by nothing in the grand scheme. His star is shining brightly, and he’s about to separate himself from TP as the best football product to ever come out of Jeannette.
Pryor may have been the bigger, brighter Buckeye. But if Urban Meyer has anything to say about, and he does, Jordan Hall is going to evolve his role, finish his work at Ohio State, and then go make the bigger, brighter impact on Sundays.