By Bill Koch
The Cincinnati Enquirer
It's all back now, the quickness to the line, the sharp cuts against the grain of the defense, the burst of speed into the open field. This is the Richard Hall who gained 7,386 yards in high school, fourth most in Ohio history.
UC's Richard Hall runs the ball during their game against Miami University Saturday.
(Jeff Swinger photo)
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"He's doing everything I saw on tape at Wyoming High School," University of Cincinnati football coach Rick Minter said.
Minter meant that as a compliment, but Hall didn't take it that way.
"College is a totally different game than high school," Hall said, "so to say that I'm back in high school form is to say that I'm back in high school, which isn't true. I would hope to be better than that. I work hard every day to be better than that."
Hall was one of the few bright spots in UC's disappointing loss at Miami last Saturday. He rushed for 161 yards on 25 carries, caught six passes for 61 yards and scored two touchdowns.
Through four games, the UC running back is averaging 107.3 yards a game, 20th in the country, and 5.4 yards a carry.
Minter says Hall has the potential to be the best back he has coached in 10 years at UC. And Minter has coached some pretty good ones in DeMarco McCleskey, Robert Cooper, Ray Jackson and Daryl Royal.
"You just watch his runs," Minter said of Hall. "I don't know if we've had anybody that's got that elusiveness. He's not a blazer, but you seldom get a good hit on him. You ought to see the tape at times. He leaves them all sprawled out."
Hall, a 24-year-old junior, has waited a long time to reach this point. His unsuccessful academic struggle to play at Ohio State has been well-documented. After transferring to UC, he sat out 2001 to fulfill the NCAA's transfer requirements while playing on the scout team.
Last year, he finally got to touch the ball in a real college game but rushed only 59 times playing behind McCleskey, who set a UC record with 1,361 yards. Hall never complained about his lack of playing time, but he says now he was disappointed that he didn't get to carry the ball more frequently.
"As a person and a running back, I felt like I was ready," Hall said. "I felt like I paid my dues the year before, working hard on the scout team. I thought I at least bought myself some type of playing time, but it didn't work out that way."
He's getting all he can handle now, averaging 20 carries a game. He has gained 429 yards rushing and leads the team in receptions with 16 for 175 yards, a 10.9-yard average. The receiving aspect of his game has been a pleasant surprise for Minter, especially on a team that's still having trouble finding sure-handed pass catchers.
"That was one of the first things I learned how to do," Hall said. "My grandfather used to have me out in the front yard every day after school catching the football with my hands. I used to catch it with my chest. He drilled that into my head early to catch with my hands. It stuck with me."
Hall says he doesn't think about Ohio State anymore unless someone else brings it up. He says he's happy at UC.
"It brings more satisfaction to me to know that I'm helping my hometown go in the right direction as far as football," Hall said. "The Bearcats are known for basketball and Coach Huggins and all the great All-Americans they have. We just want to put our stamp on something that says that we did have UC football while that was going on."
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