Hall quickly emerging for Buckeyes

By Dillon Davis - [email protected]

COLUMBUS — As Ohio State progressed through the offseason in preparation for the 2022 season, few names were mentioned by coaching staff and players alike as often as second-year defensive lineman Mike Hall Jr. Just two games into the season, it’s becoming increasingly easy to understand why that was the case.

After playing in just four games as a true freshman a season ago before ultimately redshirting, Hall has started each of the Buckeyes’ first two games this season and is beginning to assert himself as not only one of the team’s best defensive linemen, but also one of the better disruptors in the country.

Through two games, Hall has already recorded two sacks to go along with five tackles for loss despite leaving last week’s game in the third quarter with an injury. Not bad for a player his fellow defensive teammates have started calling “baby Aaron Donald” after the future hall of fame defensive tackle for the Los Angeles Rams.

“Mike’s been doing that all camp and all spring … For us, we see brother Mike do that all the time, so to see him do it in the game, this is what he’s been working for and what he’s been wanting. It was no surprise to us,” said J.T. Tuimoloau, who was the first to give Hall the lofty comparison to Donald.

Zach Harrison said of Hall, “He’s just a special player. He’s one of those guys who you see do stuff on the field and you have to acknowledge that not everybody can do that. I feel like he’s starting to realize that more and more as he’s starting to make plays, especially after (the Notre Dame game), and building on it and having the confidence to say, ‘No, these dudes can’t block me.’ That’s the mindset we try to tell Mike to have, telling him, ‘Mike, you’re like that. You’re a dog.’”

While Hall’s teammates may have needed to help him begin to understand how dominant he can be, the coaching staff at Ohio State needed no such help in seeing the potential. Defensive coordinator Jim Knowles said the possibility of Hall quickly developing into a force was readily apparent from the first moment he got to see Hall in action.

“We’ve been talking about Mike Hall since I got here, and he’s just been doing it over and over again,” defensive coordinator Jim Knowles said during Tuesday’s press conference. “So, when it happens in a game, you’re not surprised because that’s the way he practices and plays.”

Most notable when watching Hall play this season is his quickness at the snap. Hall is listed at 6-foot-2, 290 lbs., which makes him slightly undersized for the prototypical interior defensive linemen. However, Hall doesn’t sacrifice any strength with the slighter frame, and paired with elite quickness, it’s no wonder offensive linemen have yet to keep him out of the backfield.

“I thought it the first time I saw him go full speed against our talented offensive linemen,” Knowles said of Hall’s ability to get off the ball. “It is rare, that first step (off the ball). It is very rare. There are a lot of talented guys, strong guys, a lot of athletic guys. But the ability to get off the ball, it’s a split-second thing, and it’s just something that some guys have and he has it.”

Hall has also proven to be rather demonstrative throughout the course of a game when making plays in the backfield, and Harrison said last week that Hall’s energy is contagious to the rest of the team.

“Mike’s like a spark plug for the defense. Y’all see him out there going crazy and we all feed off that … It just feeds into everybody else wanting to make plays,” Harrison said.

Of course, as a player in just his second season, there is still plenty of room for growth for Hall. Knowles isn’t worried about any sort of complacency creeping in with Hall, however, after seeing how relentless Hall is every time he steps onto the field.

“There are some guys when you watch them in practice who just go hard every single play,” Knowles said. “A game, non-game, walkthrough, it doesn’t matter. I think Mike has a lot of that in him. He’s always going hard, and that’s something that’s gonna lead his game to higher levels.”


By Dillon Davis

[email protected]

Reach Dillon Davis at 740-413-0904. Follow him on Twitter @DillonDavis56.

Reach Dillon Davis at 740-413-0904. Follow him on Twitter @DillonDavis56.