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Monday, March 25, 2013
Updated: March 26, 7:25 PM ET
Air Jordan

By Austin Ward
BuckeyeNation

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- There's so much to learn, Jordan Hall needs two meeting rooms to cover all of his various responsibilities.

After missing all but three games for Ohio State last season with foot and knee injuries, he earned a medical redshirt. And the senior might not be back in the kind of shape he'll need to be in if he is to do everything required in his new role on the Buckeyes' offense.

Jordan Hall
OSU coaches believe Jordan Hall is one of the few Buckeyes with the ability to make a lot of defenders miss, and miss a lot.
But even as Hall tries to process everything the coaching staff is throwing at him, while working to get himself back in the flow physically, it took only one day of practice for him to show instant proof of how productive his move to the Pivot position could be. With one jaw-dropping catch in traffic deep down the field, Hall provided a glimpse of what might be when his transition is complete -- and what his role as a running back/wide receiver hybrid might mean for a spread attack that was already explosive.

"I didn't know he was going to be as good catching it," coach Urban Meyer said. "That was a tough catch down the middle of the field. We call it competitive excellence around here. I mean, he might go the rest of the spring and not have that shot again.

"You can't script that, say, 'OK, scramble, make a play with someone draped all over him.' To see him go up and go make a play, I'm real excited about his future."

The addition of a healthy Hall only figures to brighten the outlook for the offense, with his versatility adding variety to the playbook and more uncertainty for opposing defenses.

Hall's head-turning catch provided some evidence that he can be a factor stretching the field vertically in the passing game, though he could also be a nuisance on screens and routes across the middle of the field. A running back in his first three seasons, the Buckeyes can also shift him into the backfield to get him carries as a rusher on the inside zone or on the perimeter on the option.

Despite Hall finishing last spring as the projected starter at running back, Meyer had already earmarked for him the Pivot role made famous by Percy Harvin at Florida, as Hall had an exceptional ability to make defenders miss. And while he certainly expected last season to be his final one with the program, his plans changed after a fluke foot injury in the summer from stepping on a piece of glass and then a knee issue that knocked him out after he returned.

Those health concerns, though, might wind up being a huge blessing for all parties involved, once Hall gets his body used to the demands of his new position and shakes off a minor hamstring pull that seems to have come from pushing it too much, too fast.

"We have a lot of playmakers on offense, first off," Hall said. "I think I can just be another one, just another person the defense has to prepare for and I'm looking forward to that.

"I really don't know [what to expect at H-back], to be honest. I just know catching passes, Coach Meyer told me motioning to the backfield, options, screens, different things like that. I'm really trying to figure it out for myself, too. ... Hopefully I can tell you in about a week."

The Buckeyes have a bit more time than that before wrapping up spring drills, and there's still a full offseason and training camp ahead to make sure he has the bases covered.

Wide receivers coach Zach Smith will make sure Hall knows his routes and responsibilities in the passing game. Running backs coach Stan Drayton will deal with the rest as Hall splits time with both position groups in meetings.

The process might take some time before Hall is comfortable. But it only took one afternoon to see what the results might be.

"We operated probably at about 60 percent last year," Drayton said. "Here's the deal: When you sit there and study our film, you see safeties sitting there at eight yards because Carlos Hyde and Braxton Miller are in the backfield. The moment we're able to pose a pass threat, those safeties can't sit around the box. They're going to have to play defense, play some coverage.

"Once we get that balance in our offense, we're hoping it will be very explosive here."

Hall has had to wait a bit longer than anticipated, but he might finally be on track to light the fuse.