MOGADORE – Field High School’s quarterback spun onto the grass as Mike Hall raised himself up off of the ground. Hall, a four-star defensive tackle who’d just picked up his first sack of Streetsboro’s 35-0 win on Friday, turned to face the end zone and flexed, jolting his head upward as he unleashed a primal scream.
You know those photos of Ohio State players peacocking while standing over a quarterback and yelling to nobody in particular after a big play? Picture that. Except don’t actually go looking for the picture because it doesn’t exist.
On Friday, in front of a socially distant crowd of 175 or so Field fans scattered about in the home stands and about 75 Streetsboro fans littering the away bleachers, the Ohio State commit didn’t find himself in a camera lens. Of the four members of the media on the sign-in sheet at Field’s gate to the stadium, the two photographers weren’t even in the end zone ready for the Hall sack and subsequent celebration.
Hall, an Ohio State commit, might garner a different reaction if he makes a similar play next fall in Ohio Stadium with more than the couple-hundred people at the stadium in Mogadore.
But with only Field High School’s marching band in front of him on Friday, Hall had the moment to himself – well, and anybody else tuning into the feed online.
“You always got to show out when you're on the field,” Hall told Eleven Warriors afterward. “You never know who's watching, so you've always got to impress everybody. Give everybody a show.”
This weekend’s Mike Hall Show included a remarkable two-way performance in which he only sat out for a three-minute span in the third quarter while dealing with a charley horse. Otherwise, he played every single snap at either right tackle or on the defensive line. Prior to the season, his coach sat him down to tell him he thought he needed Hall to play on both sides of the ball, and his star abided.
Against Field, Hall teetered on double-digit pancakes as an offensive lineman and recorded several tackles for loss, including the aforementioned sack, as a defensive lineman. The Falcons, a Division IV team, were without anyone who could handle the 6-foot-3, 290-pounder. Hall quite literally did whatever he wanted, tossing people around while showcasing again and again why he’s the No. 54-ranked senior in the nation and third-best Ohioan in his class.
“It's just when I put that helmet on, I'm not Mike Hall anymore,” Hall said. “It's something different.”
Perhaps tuning in over an internet broadcast? His future coach, Ohio State defensive line maestro Larry Johnson, who offered Hall a scholarship on Oct. 28 and accepted his commitment on Feb. 1.
“I sent him the link,” Hall said. “He was probably watching. I might get a text from him tonight or tomorrow morning. Week 1, he said I had a phenomenal game. I've just got to keep it up, just being 1-0 every week.”
If Johnson did, in fact, see Hall’s performance on Friday, he had to have been pleased. The future Buckeye’s high school coach told Hall he thought this was his best individual performance he’s seen yet.
Hall’s stock just keeps rising.
Ohio State offered him a scholarship when recruiting analysts generally regarded him as a three-star prospect. He shot up in their rankings after his junior year, earning a spot among the country’s top-100 overall recruits. His rating as the fourth-best defensive tackle in his class should only become more secure once more see Friday’s film.
“I was talking to coach Johnson a little bit before the game,” Hall said. “He was just telling me, ‘I like your intensity. You're the perfect guy for us.’ I think I'll fit in great. Just got to catch up on things when I get down there and just be great.”
What Hall says is different about him this year that likely won’t appear on the tape is how his teammates take to him as a leader.
“Just got to get ready and just focus on now. You really can't let anything distract you. You've just got to keep your head straight. Really don't let anybody get in between that.”– Mike Hall on his preparation for Ohio State
By playing almost every play, he showed the rest of the 2-0 team that if their Ohio State-bound senior isn’t taking a play off, they shouldn’t either. When he left the game in the third quarter with his team up by four touchdowns, he easily could have called it a night. But he didn’t. After he returned to the field three minutes later, he never subbed out again. His quarterback got drilled by a late hit, eliciting a well-deserved penalty, and it was Hall who got in the defender's face.
“You've always got to have that energy, just never getting tired and always working harder than everybody,” Hall said. “You've just got to show everybody out on the field.”
A vocal presence, too, Hall was the loudest player on Streetsboro’s team all night. He was upbeat throughout the evening, shouting often and clapping whenever things got too quiet.
“Juniors, we still like to have fun. But this year is just all business,” said Hall, a senior at Streetsboro. “Just seriousness. We don't have time to play.”
Whenever Hall gets to Ohio State’s campus, he certainly won’t walk in as the unquestioned leader, which he proved he is for Streetsboro right now. He’ll be a freshman at a position where most first-year players don’t earn many immediate reps.
Helping his transition to college will be fellow 2021 commits, who collectively make up the country’s No. 1 recruiting class.
“We talk every day,” Hall said. “I was talking to guys before I even got to the game. We were just talking about getting ready for the game and just getting in that mindset of being winners. We talk every day. We don't just talk about football. We talk about life, things that happen off the field. So it's just great things. It's crazy, like, when you go to college, a lot of these guys are new and you've never met them, but it seems like we're all a family. We know each other's parents and stuff like that, so it's a great culture down there.”
Once they live in Columbus together, he’ll get to know them exponentially better soon enough. Now just a few months away, Ohio State awaits for Hall.
But for the next couple of months, it’s up to him to wrap up his senior season in style.
“Just got to get ready and just focus on now,” Hall said. “You really can't let anything distract you. You've just got to keep your head straight. Really don't let anybody get in between that. Just got to keep focused.