Jeannette grad Hall gets chance to shine in Orange Bowl
By Brian Knavish
Published: Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2014, 9:00 p.m.
One more time.
When Jeannette High School graduate Jordan Hall takes the field in Miami for the Discover Orange Bowl on Friday, it will be the last game of his up-and-down collegiate career at Ohio State.
Jeannette football fans hope to catch one more glimpse of the speed and athleticism that made him a dynamic, eye-opening playmaker with the Buckeyes.
Hall was a star during his days with Jeannette, helping to lead the Jayhawks to two WPIAL and PIAA Class AA titles during his high school days. As a senior in 2008, he rushed for 946 yards and 18 touchdowns and caught 10 passes for 266 yards and three touchdowns.
He was a blue chip recruit and signed with Ohio State one year after his friend and fellow Jeannette football star Terrelle Pryor signed with the Buckeyes.
The local standout made an immediate impact, playing in six games as a freshman in 2009 and rushing for 248 yards.
As a sophomore in 2010, his role in the running game took a step backward as he rushed for 161 yards, but his involvement in special teams increased.
That year, Hall emerged as one of the nation's most dangerous kick returners, bringing back 18 kicks for 503 yards and a touchdown and 24 punts for 238 yards.
In 2011, Hall faced some adversity as he was suspended for the first two games of the year following NCAA violations for his involvement in Ohio State's tattoos-for-memorabilia scandal and missing another game due to injury.
Yet, Hall also had his best season that year, showing that explosiveness that Jeannette fans expected as he rushed for 418 yards on 74 carries, caught 26 passes for 202 yards and returned 26 kicks for 683 yards.
He was poised to be Ohio State's feature back entering last season, but he suffered a cut on his foot during the summer. The injury required surgery and Hall missed the first two games of the season.
He returned to the lineup for three games — gaining 218 yards rushing and making three catches — before injuring his knee in the fifth game of the season and missing the rest of that year.
The silver lining of 2012 was that he earned a medical redshirt, giving him one more season this year.
It was deja vu entering this season, as Hall was again poised to be the feature back. He was just that through the first three games of the season, gaining a team-high 470 yards on 54 carries, a 6.3 per carry and 134 per game average.
After the team's 52-34 win over California on Sept. 14, he was named one of the “champions of the game” by head coach Urban Meyer.
However, after that game, Hall's production dropped as fellow Ohio State running back Carlos Hyde returned from a suspension. Hall, who battled through nagging knee injuries this year, rushed for just 66 yards total in the final nine games of the season.
The drop was more due to Hyde's dominance — he rushed for 1,408 yards in just nine games — than anything else.
Ohio State, meanwhile, rattled off an undefeated regular season, going 12-0 and being ranked No. 2 in both the BCS and Associated Press rankings heading into the Big Ten Conference championship game on Dec. 7.
A win against Michigan State in the conference title game would have put Hall and the Buckeyes in the national title game. However, Michigan State (including Jeannette product Demetrious Cox) upset the Buckeyes, 34-24, leaving Ohio State out of the championship conversation.
But the season is hardly lost.
Ohio State is still 12-1 and ranked No. 7 in the country. The team will battle Clemson, 10-2 and ranked No. 12. in the ultra-prestigious Orange Bowl.
The Tigers — out of the Atlantic Coast Conference — feature a high-powered offense that could be the best Ohio State has faced all season. Led by dual-threat quarterback Tajh Boyd, Clemson has averaged 40 points per game.
Ohio State features its own high-powered offense and dual threat quarterback in Braxton Miller. The difference in the game could be which team uses more of its weapons.
Jeannette fans know that Ohio State has a dangerous weapon patiently waiting to be unsheathed in Hall.
The Discover Orange Bowl will be held in Sun Life Stadium in Miami, Fla., on Friday. Kickoff is set for 8:30 p.m., and the game will be televised on ESPN.
Brian Knavish is a contributing writer.
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