Year: RS Senior
Hometown: Virignia Beach
It seems as though Mark Hall has always been close to breaking out. For whatever reason though, he keeps getting beat out for the spot. And, he’s usually getting beat out by under-classmen. That isn’t a good sign. Hall’s problem in the old scheme was that Mike London and Jon Tenuta preferred fast guys at LB (and rightly so) and Hall isn’t the fastest of OLBs. All told, through 3 years of play, Hall has totaled 27 tackles in 29 games. Most of those have come on special teams, but he does have 1.5 TFLs in his career. Hall isn’t a great cover LB, which means he’s been best suited for strong-side LB as a pass-rusher. The problem is he’s never been able to fully develop his pass-rush moves. This explains why the Hoos moved Mike Moore to SLB last year. It explains why true freshmen like Eric Gallon have passed him on the depth chart.
Now, in the new 3-4 defense, Hall has been moved down to DE. His lack of speed is less of a problem on the DL, though now he’s facing a size problem. He’ll be undersized as a 3-4 DE, but he’ll have a quickness advantage on the guys he’s going up against most of the time. The question remains, though. Can he develop enough pass rush moves to actually get onto the field. The Hoos have several options at DE, and some of those guys have been more successful than Hall as pass rushers.
Mark was a 3 star recruit by Rivals, Scout and 247sports, but ESPN rated him just 2 stars. Here is Mark’s Hudl highlight video. Watch the 4th play, he is lined up as a DE (it’s a 4-3 DE, but that’s ok). He engages with his blocker, pushes him back, then sheds the blocker and makes the play before the RB can get the edge. This is what the Hoos would want from him as a DE. Again, it’s different because it’s a 3-4 defense and not a 4-3 defense. But the technique remains the same.
Obviously, this is Hall’s make or break year. He’s now got one shot to make a difference on the field. He’s almost definitely on the 2-deep at DE, simply because there aren’t enough bodies on the DL. If one of the DEs were to suffer an injury, Hall could be in line for significant snaps. Otherwise, he’s likely relegated to special teams again. He happens to be a very good special teams player.If you’re reading this, you probably know that Hall’s younger brother Devon is on the Hoos’ basketball team. Devon is a redshirt sophomore entering this year, so even though Mark will move on after this year, Wahoo fans will probably still see him around at JPJ for the next few years.