Ohio State Defensive Tackle Mike Hall Jr. Says It's “The Greatest Feeling Ever” to Be Drafted by Hometown Team

By Andy Anders on April 27, 2024 at 11:39 am
Mike Hall

Playing for your hometown NFL team is a wonder that few get to experience. Mike Hall Jr. will be among those few.

With the Cleveland Browns taking Hall 54th overall in the second round of the 2024 NFL draft on Friday, the kid who grew up in Cleveland before moving 40 minutes away to Streetsboro, Ohio, for his sophomore year of high school will realize his professional dreams in familiar territory.

“It’s the greatest feeling ever in the world,” Hall said. “I’ve gotta, first and foremost, give thanks to my lord and savior Jesus Christ, without him nothing is possible.”

Hall is one of the youngest players in the draft, electing to enter his name after just three years at Ohio State and already young for his grade level at 20 years old.

The decision to turn pro wasn’t a difficult one, though. Not with a child on the way.

“I kind of made my decision before the season started,” Hall said. “I was pretty sure on that, especially then when I had my son late in the year, that solidified it. It wasn’t like I was tempted to go back – for sure, it was still unfinished business (at Ohio State), but Mike Hall has to do what’s right for my family and it was just better for that. I can’t think of it as my personal preference.”

Hall’s been thankful to go through the draft process with his newborn, Michael “Trey” Hall.

“It’s been the greatest addition to my life, for sure,” Hall said. “Teaching me a lot of patience and just trying to be a role model for my son. It’s just the best feeling. For him to be around this and witnessing this and he’s in all the videos, just give him something good to look back on.”

That same draft process gave Hall a chance to show off some of the athletic traits that ultimately made him a second-rounder. He ran a 4.75-second 40-yard dash at Ohio State’s Pro Day, which would have beaten every defensive tackle at the NFL Scouting Combine.

Injuries and playing mostly one-technique instead of his more natural three-technique position limited his production in Columbus, though he still picked up a combined 43 tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss and six sacks in his two seasons as a starter.

“Ultimately it just came down to the talent,” Browns assistant general manager Glenn Cook said. “He’s a very talented young man. The way I would describe him is a shapeshifter, the way he can move his body, the way he can attack the quarterback. I think, probably next to (Browns GM) Andrew (Berry), the most happy person was (defensive coordinator) Jim Schwartz. Just with our attacking style, he really fits our model.”

"He’s a very talented young man. The way I would describe him is a shapeshifter, the way he can move his body, the way he can attack the quarterback."– Cleveland Browns assistant GM Glenn Cook on Mike Hall Jr.

Hall credited Ohio State defensive line coach Larry Johnson with the development of those traits. His burst off the line of scrimmage and arsenal of rush moves are what he feels will help him excel at the next level.

“I would just say my explosiveness and my get-off, just having my toolbox,” Hall said. “Learning that from Larry Johnson, my position coach at Ohio State. He developed me great into a player, just understanding different moves, working off of that and just having a good foundation. We were able to build off that.”

He’ll join a quartet of former Buckeyes as a Brown: Denzel Ward, Ronnie Hickman, Luke Wypler and Dawand Jones. The latter was in his ear shortly after Hall took his official visit to Cleveland.

“He was saying, ‘Man, if you get here, it’s over with,’” Hall said. “You’re the best duo offense/defense-wise. We bring a lot of juice in practice, even at Ohio State. So I know it’s going to be 10,000 (times) more at the next level. But I’m really blessed to be able to play with my brother for life.”

Hall knows the expectations placed upon him will be higher as a result of playing for his hometown team, but he’s ready to embrace that spotlight.

“I love it,” Hall said. “I’m not one of those guys who’s gonna run away from the pressure. I run to it. I run head-on. There’s gonna be a lot of pressure on me playing in my hometown, a lot of people are gonna have a lot of expectations but at the end of the day, as a player, I have demands. I have to meet expectations.”

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