Darrin Hall gets chance to make his mark at Pitt Pro Day
Qadree Ollison and Darrin Hall are trying to follow in the footsteps of LeSean McCoy, Dion Lewis and James Conner as Pitt running backs of recent vintage who have achieved success in the NFL.
Ollison got an early start on the pre-draft process three weeks ago in Indianapolis when he competed at the NFL Combine.
Hall, who didn’t receive the same invitation as his backfield running mate, got his chance to make up for lost time Wednesday at the Pitt Pro Day.
By all accounts, Hall made sure the wait was worth it.
Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi and Ollison each agreed Hall turned heads on a day when 10 former Panthers players lifted, jumped and ran sprints and shuttle drills in front of scouts representing nearly every NFL team.
Hall did 27 reps of 225 pounds in the bench press. He had a 32-inch vertical jump and covered 10 feet, 2 inches in the broad jump. His precise 40-yard dash time wasn’t made public, but Narduzzi said Hall ran in the “low 4.5s.”
That didn’t surprise Ollison.
“I knew he was going to kill it, and he killed it today,” Ollison said. “He did everything. I root for him just as much as I root for anybody else. He’s my brother. I’m excited for him. I wish he was in Indy, but he did his thing here — as I knew he would.”
Narduzzi was surprised only one of his three senior running backs, including fullback George Aston, was invited to compete at the combine.
“I don’t get to make those decisions, but there are a few guys I think should have been at the combine,” Narduzzi said. “Darrin is an exceptional back. He’s got great ball skills. He can run. There are some scouts out here today who thought he was the faster back. It’s, what are you looking for?”
Each back is listed at 225 pounds, but at 6-foot-2, Ollison is 3 inches taller than Hall. Ollison is considered more of a power runner than Hall.
Ollison rested on his 4.58 time in the 40 that he produced in Indianapolis. The only events he was tested in Wednesday were the 20-yard shuttle and three-cone drill. For comparison purposes, Ollison’s 29 1/2 inch vertical jump, 19 repetitions on the bench press and 9-5 broad jump were exceeded by Hall.
“I felt like I did great,” Hall said. “I went out and gave it all I got. I set goals, and I think I hit a lot of them.”
While Ollison got the chance to be tested at Lucas Oil Stadium with the NFL Network broadcasting the events live, Hall continued his training in California in preparation for the pro day.
“I was a little disappointed,” Hall said. “That’s a dream to go there and compete against other players. But it happens. Adversity hits, you’ve got to know how to respond.”
The duo formed a strong bond when Hall set foot in Oakland in 2015 when Ollison was a redshirt freshman. They finished their careers topping 1,000 yards each while sharing carries. Ollison rushed for 1,213 yards and 11 touchdowns and averaged 6.3 yards an attempt as a senior. Hall was right behind with 1,144 yards, 10 touchdowns and a 7.5 average per rush.
“We’ve been pushing each other since I got here,” Hall said. “He made me a better back, and I made him a better back. I tell young guys don’t be afraid of competition because in the end, both of you will get better.”
With the pro day in his rear-view mirror, Hall has no plans to be satisfied with his workout. Immediately after the event, he had a meeting with a Cincinnati Bengals scout who offered some sage advice.
“It’s not rest time,” Hall said he was told. “You train for this. Now, you don’t go sit out and wait. You’ve got to go out and train harder.”
Notes: Because they are recovering from injuries, offensive lineman Alex Bookser and linebacker Quintin Wirginis competed only in the bench press. Bookser did 29 reps, Wirginis 25. Aston also did 29 reps, tying Bookser for most among Pitt players. … Defensive end James Folston Jr. dominated the jumping events, getting a 40 1/2 -inch vertical jump and 10-9 broad jump.
Joe Rutter is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Joe by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .