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Hard work pays for new DL Hall
Jake Hall of Springdale Har-Ber High School gets set up against the offensive line of Rogers High School Friday, Oct. 19, 2012 at Jarrell Williams Bulldog Stadium in Springdale
First in a series profiling newcomers to the Arkansas football team.
Jake Hall at a glance
HEIGHT/WEIGHT 6-5, 255 pounds
POSITION Defensive end
HIGH SCHOOL Springdale Har-Ber
NOTEWORTHY Had 67 tackles, 3.5 sacks, 3 forced fumbles, 2 pass breakups and a recovered fumble as a senior. … Recorded 50 tackles, 2.5 sacks, 4 quarterback hurries and 3 forced fumbles as a junior. … Played on a Har-Ber defensive line that included Alabama freshman tackle Josh Frazier. … First-team All-Arkansas Preps. … Chose Arkansas over Louisiana-Monroe and Cincinnati.
Jake Hall was told by some college coaches early in the recruiting process that, based on his then-250-pound, not-so-firm build, he would be best served honing his skills to become an offensive lineman if he wanted to play football on the collegiate level.
Hall saw himself as a defensive lineman, though, and was determined to prove wrong everyone he could over the course of the next year. The end result for the 2014 Springdale Har-Ber graduate was earning a scholarship just down the road at Arkansas, which recruited him as a defensive end -- the position he saw himself at all along.
"Last January I was at 250 and coaches told me to look at playing offensive line," Hall said. "So I started really training hard, got down to 235 pounds after cutting off the fat and am now at 255. I look a lot better, more muscular."
That hard work involved from 5:30 a.m. CrossFit strength and conditioning sessions, then participating in two-hour team workouts starting at 6:30 a.m., going to school, and having practice or another team workout before finishing the day with speed-type training.
Hall said it was difficult catching the eye of additional recruiters in the offseason while he was reshaping himself -- that is until he donned the pads at the Razorbacks Prospect Camp. Hall made his impression on the UA coaches there before Coach Bret Bielema met with him and his family in late October to offer him a scholarship.
Har-Ber Coach Chris Wood said he knows the Razorbacks won't be disappointed with what they get from the former Wildcat when he arrives on the UA campus this summer.
"There isn't going to be a kid there that will outwork him," Wood said. "We even looked at him at tight end, but his money is at defensive end. His body of work was consistent. He wasn't a week-on, week-off kind of guy, and that's a testament to everything he put in to getting better."
Hall said he knew early in his sophomore season that he had the makings to earn a college scholarship.
"We were practicing against the varsity and I had my first rep and I smoked the guy I was going against," he said. "I kind of had an idea right then I could be good."
Har-Ber finished 8-4 in 2013, losing 52-42 to Conway in the quarterfinals of the Class 7A state playoffs. Teaming with Josh Frazier, an Alabama signee, to create problems for opposing offenses, Hall had 67 tackles his senior season, including 3.5 sacks.
Hall was also named to the All-Arkansas Preps first team after forcing three fumbles while recovering one.
"Quality teams have great defensive lines," Wood said. "Jake and Josh helped that. The big thing is Jake worked so hard and others saw what he put in. He's going to be a 265-, 270-pound guy in college.
"I think the Arkansas coaches saw all that hard work pay off for him. They're getting a kid that loves the Razorbacks and loves the state of Arkansas."
Despite trading in the Har-Ber blue and black, Hall said it will be interesting to see his former teammate in a different version of crimson and white when the Tide come to Reynolds Razorback Stadium on Oct. 11.
"I'm happy for Josh," he said. "I'm real excited for him, and I know he's excited to get going with them.
"Right now, I'm pretty excited myself to get there and work as hard as I can and hopefully it will all pay off."
Sports on 06/18/2014