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COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Jordan Hall just may be Ohio State's breakout player this season.
No, this isn't a re-run of an article from a year ago, when Buckeyes head coach Urban Meyer named the senior running back his team's top playmaker following spring practice. Multiple injuries- including one freak accident before the start of fall camp- derailed those plans, but Hall has hopes of making the most of a second, and final chance in 2013.
"We have a lot of playmakers on offense. I think I can be another one," Hall said following OSU's third spring practice of the preseason. "I'm another person that people will have to prepare for."
That was the plan a year ago also, when Meyer ranted and raved about Hall's ability in his spread offense. The Jeannette, Pa. native was even held out of the spring game, because the OSU coaching staff felt that he had nothing left to prove until the start of the season.
Plans for Hall, however, soon hit a snag.
On June 29- nearly two months before the start of the season- Hall cut his foot on a piece of glass outside of his apartment. The injury kept him out of action for a full 10 weeks, with Hall returning for the Buckeyes' third game of the season, where he rushed for 87 yards in a 35-28 win over California.
A week later, Hall enjoyed the best game of his college career, rushing for 105 yards in Ohio State's win over UAB, and against Michigan State, he ran for a touchdown in the Buckeyes' 17-16 victory. The running back's performance against the Spartans, however, came at a price.
After attempting just six carries in East Lansing, Hall suffered a partial tear of his PCL, which ultimately kept him out of Ohio State's remaining seven games. The good news, however, was that having participated in just three games in 2012, Hall was still eligible for a medical redshirt.
Meyer said that there was never a discussion regarding whether or not Hall would return for a fifth season in Columbus.
"He just wasn't healthy enough to play. There wasn't a decision," Meyer said. "He could've moved on to what? The NFL? He's gotta have a good year. I think he will. Because I do think he could play in the NFL if he has a good year."
Through three weeks of spring practice, the prognosis on Hall has been a microcosm of his college career: there's been plenty of optimism, but also some setbacks along the way.
It was Hall who stole the show in the Buckeyes' first spring practice on March 5, excelling in Ohio State's hybrid wide receiver-running back position while dodging would-be tacklers and slipping by mismatched defenders. The burst was reminiscent of the effort that he showed a year ago, which led to the high praise from the OSU coaching staff.
"The one thing about Jordan Hall, you look at his stature - he looks small, but the kid is a 400-pound bencher, he is 200 pounds, he is quick as a hiccup and he can make you miss in space," running backs coach Stan Drayton said. "You have a kid that you can put in space that has all these talents that are versatile, and you're just trying to put it into one system. He is a valuable threat in a significant player in this system."
Despite his resurgence, Hall is been slowed down by a slight hamstring pull, as well as an academic issue that kept him out of Ohio State's sixth spring practice. He returned in time for the Buckeyes' seventh spring practice, but Meyer admitted that he needs every minute that he can get on the practice field.
"He's going to play a new position," Meyer said. "The amount of running compared to a running back that a receiver does, he just wasn't ready."
Regardless of his setbacks, Hall remains confident that he'll be an integral part of the OSU offense once the season starts this fall.
"I'm not worried about that," Hall said. "I figure if I'm on the field, I have a chance to make plays and people will see it."
As he's learned in the last year, doing just that can be easier said than done.