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Wednesday, April 18, 2012
Buckeyes' Jordan Hall open to changes

By Adam Rittenberg

When Ohio State's Jordan Hall began watching tape of Florida and Iowa State, he didn't compare himself to the players carrying the football.

He'll leave that to others. Hall was more interested in how his new coach, Urban Meyer, and his new offensive coordinator, Tom Herman, used running backs. He immediately liked what he saw.

Jordan Hall
Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said Jordan Hall had been more than just an on-field weapon prior to his recent injury.
"I like being in the open field, just being one-on-one with defenders," Hall recently told ESPN.com. "And that's where they put you. I'm excited."

Hall watched former Florida standouts Jeff Demps, Chris Rainey and Percy Harvin, three of the Gators' top playmakers during Meyer's tenure as coach.

"They're more shiftier, speed guys who can make people miss and make plays in the open field," Hall said. "That's really where this offense puts you. That's what I like to do."

Ohio State's new offense hasn't been an ideal fit for every player. The Buckeyes ran a dramatically different system under the previous regime, a pro-style, ball-control, slower-paced scheme that would kindly be described as conservative. Spring practice has been a struggle at times -- Meyer likened the offense's play to a "clown show" at points early in the session -- and players are continuing to learn the signals, plays and accelerated pace the new coaches want.

But the transition has gone smoothly for Hall, whose speed and versatility help in this type of scheme. It's not a stretch to wonder if Hall's ceiling will be higher in Ohio State's new offense than it ever could have been in the previous system. In February, I pegged him as the top candidate to play the so-called "Percy position," a reference to the receiver-running back role Harvin had under Meyer at Florida.

According to ESPN The Magazine's Zach Schonbrun, Meyer said Hall is currently "the closest" to filling the Harvin role.

The 5-foot-9, 198-pound senior can run the ball (100 carries, 408 yards, two TDs last season). He can catch the ball (12 receptions, 114 yards, three TDs last season). He also can be effective in space, having returned 44 kickoffs and 36 punts in the past two seasons.

Meyer last week cited Hall and tight end Jake Stoneburner as two playmakers who have emerged this spring. Asked what Meyer's feedback has been for him this spring, Hall replied, "Just keep it going."

"I'm still lining up in the backfield, catching passes out of the backfield, screens and stuff like that," Hall said. "I'm just trying to get in the open field and in space."

At times, Hall will line up wide with another running back, Carlos Hyde, in the backfield. Given Ohio State's lack of depth at wide receiver, a position about which Meyer has expressed concern throughout the spring, putting multiple backs on the field together seems to make sense.

"It just makes the defense have to cover the whole field, really," Hall said.

Hall acknowledged the offense has endured some hiccups, especially with signals early in the spring. But he sees steps being made by quarterback Braxton Miller, Hyde and others, and he has high hopes for the unit come September.

"We can be real good," he said. "I know we can score a lot of points."