When asked about freshman safety Jason Hall, teammates and coaches consistently mention the same trait: Hall’s energy.
“He’s the safety on the nickel package; he’s the starter so he plays a lot,” head coach Charlie Strong said. “He plays with a lot of energy and passion, and he brings a lot to the team. So yeah, he’ll play a lot. He’s been playing a lot.”
Hall, a South Grand Prairie High School graduate dubbed the No. 85 safety in his class by ESPN, was named an honorable mention All-State 5A by the Associated Press in 2013. His senior year production amounted to 57 tackles, six interceptions, six pass breakups, one pressure and two defensive touchdowns. Instead of redshirting his freshman year, Hall’s start against Kansas made him the first true freshman to start at safety since Blake Gideon in 2008.
“We’ve been playing Jason Hall a little bit each game, and he played quite a bit against UCLA,” defensive coordinator Vance Bedford said before the Kansas game. “Did he make some mistakes? Yes, he did. But what I saw was a physical presence; that’s what we are looking for — guys that can bring physicality to the game.”
Hall continued to bring physicality to the game against the Jayhawks this weekend. Registering a career-high seven tackles, five of which were solos, Hall tied sophomore defensive tackle Hassan Ridgeway’s stops, only ranking behind veterans senior linebacker Jordan Hicks and junior linebacker Steve Edmond. Through two games played, Hall has recorded 11 total tackles, eight of which were solo. Fellow defensive back senior Quandre Diggs said Hall ramps up the team energy when he steps on the field.
“We had a nice little spark from Jason when he came in,” Diggs said about Hall’s UCLA production. “He came in and he had two nice plays back-to-back, and, you know, he’s out there hitting guys. He loves to hit; he loves competing. You can tell he has a passion for the game.”
Nevertheless, Diggs sees Hall’s youth as a double-edged sword. Although his inexperience motivates him to perform, it also overwhelms him with excitement at times.
“Once we get him in the right direction and get him lined up in the right places, you know he’s going to let loose and he’s going to go,” Diggs said. “That’s the hard thing about being young. You just want to get in and you want to play. [You] might not do things right, but you’re going to run your tail up to the ball.”
Hall does run his tail up to the ball. He sees the football team as “something I want to be a part of,” as he told The Daily Texan in April. Each game, he’s becoming an increasingly significant part.
But, as Diggs says, once Hall learns to “read his keys more,” toning down the energy to balance it with a tad more strategy, Hall’s “going to be a great player.”