The Hall way: JC transfer is in the mix in Aggie backfield

By Jeff Hunter

For the Deseret News

Published: Wednesday, Aug. 13 2014 11:25 a.m. MDT

Utah State running back Rashad Hall, left, practices with the Aggies.

Jeff Hunter

LOGAN — Officially, Rashad Hall redshirted last season after transferring to Utah State from Contra Costa College in San Pablo, California. But for at least one day last fall, Hall was the Aggies’ featured back on Merlin Olsen Field at Romney Stadium.

In order to demonstrate the strength of the suction generated by the Personnel Vacuum Assisted Climber – an award-winning device produced by USU engineering students — for a National Geographic Channel show titled “Showdown of the Unbeatables,” a request was made of the Aggie football program.

“They wanted to use a strong running back, and I’m a strong running back,” Hall said of his brief appearance on the TV show.

For his part, Hall said the production company that filmed the episode last Sept. 20 used him for just about half an hour. The PVAC, which allows the user to climb up vertical surfaces without the aid of a rope, was turned on and a strap attached to the 6-foot-1, 200-pound Hall, who was unable to yank it away from the wall at the north end of Romney Stadium.

“It was workout,” Hall said. “But I definitely wasn’t going to be able to pull it off. Those engineering students know what they’re doing.”

While Hall said he felt like it was a good sign that USU head coach Matt Wells recommended him for the demonstration, Wells suggested that there was something more to Hall’s selection than just the Virginia native’s size and strength.

“I thought it was something good for a running back that’s redshirting to do because in case he got hurt, we had plenty of time to get him healed,” Wells declared with a chuckle.

That said, Wells is definitely excited to have Hall available to carry the football this fall. The junior running back was one of the standout performers of the spring, taking advantage of additional playing time made possible by the graduation of Joey DeMartino (1,221 yards and 13 touchdowns on 221 carries) and Robert Marshall (415 yards on 94 carries), and the absence of senior Joe Hill, who was still rehabbing from a season-ending knee injury he suffered on Sept. 27 at San Jose State.

“Rashad had a really good spring, and he also had a really good summer,” USU special teams/running backs coach Dave Ungerer said of Hall, who racked up 124 yards on 15 carries during the Blue vs. White Spring Game. “He’s gained a little bit of strength and a little bit of weight, so we’re really excited about the improvements he’s made.”

At the start of fall camp last week, Hall saw a lot of the time with the No. 1 offense along with Hill, who is listed as the starter after totaling 252 yards and one touchdown on 53 carries prior to his injury. Concerns about a possible concussion following a hard hit to his head during practice last Friday sidelined Hall on Saturday and the first day of two-a-days on Monday, but he’s expected to return to action sometime this week.

In addition to Hill and Hall, the USU backfield mix also includes 5-8, 160-pound sophomore Kennedy Williams, who had a strong spring, as well, and 5-11, 208-pound freshman Karris Johnson. Like Hall, Johnson redshirted last season, while Kennedy, the younger brother of former Aggie and current San Diego Charger Kerwynn Williams, carried the ball 21 times for 68 yards in 2013.

A couple of other freshman backs, 5-8, 185-pound LaJuan Hunt and 5-9, 180-pound Justin Hervey, are also in camp this fall, along with another junior college transfer 5-9, 177-pound sophomore Tonny Lindsey.

“We have a lot of bodies,” Ungerer noted. “We lost of a couple of seniors, so we do have a lot of newcomers and freshmen to add to the group. We feel like they’re all talented guys, but they’re just learning. And there’s a lot to learn. The offense is pretty complex.”

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