Safety Jason Hall is entering his junior year with the Texas Longhorns, as he has was the team’s starter at safety during his sophomore campaign in 2015. He was an overachiever when he first set foot on campus, but he has not taken the next step into becoming a lockdown defender capable of covering up the deficiencies of senior Dylan Haines at the other safety spot.
However, there are players who've performed well in the spring and have arrived on campus this summer that could possibly supplant Hall, so he will have to step it up. As Jeff Howe of Horns247 wrote a few days ago, the coaching staff “appear[s] to be ready to upgrade the position with speed and playmaking ability via the two youngsters,” so Hall will have to show he is still worthy of the starting spot at safety, despite not bringing a lot of speed to the program.
To put things into context, he’s pretty large at 219 pounds, an unusually high weight for a safety. In high school, back when he only weighed in at 192 pounds, he ran a 4.73 40-yard dash, which is not awful, but it isn't great for a safety.
Hall broke out onto the scene as a freshman, due to the fact that he did not really have any real competition due to injuries and attrition. One safety that he was competing with was dismissed, another fell victim to the injury bug, and another was suspended.
Hall started in 11 of 12 games at safety last season, recording 51 tackles (33 solo). He also was tied for second on the team in interceptions with two picks. However, he has to show greater dedication to his craft and start showing some positive growth trajectory for the first time since he arrived at Texas as the nation’s No. 77 safety, according to the 247Sports Composite rankings.
Longhorns defensive coordinator Vance Bedford had this to say when he talked to media members, including Chip Brown of Horns Digest, at the end of March:
"He's been here for a while right now. He's been a big hitter and now it's time for him to take the next step and that next step is understanding the game. He cannot rely on my man [S Dylan] Haines to getting him aligned.”
"He know needs to take a leadership role and have idea of what to do, how to fit the run, how to read your keys and do the little things right. And he's had a good spring so far so he's heading in the right direction right now.”
As Ian Boyd of Inside Texas writes, “in terms of run defense, the hope seems to be that Jason Hall will become the enforcer at box safety that everyone expected to see in 2016.” Hall is known for his ability to make some pretty big hits and he can occasionally provide the much-needed interception, as he’s demonstrated at times in his career:
It will be interesting to see if the 6-foot-3, 219-pound safety can step it up and become an impact performer on the defensive side of the ball. He certainly has all the tools to do it, but he will have to prove it on the field.