A popular series from last draft cycle is returning yet again at Stampede Blue. Last off-season, I interviewed over 40 prospects that could eventually be fits for the Indianapolis Colts in the 2019 NFL Draft. As a result, we were able to find out a lot about two Colts who went on to eventually be drafted by the team in Marvell Tell II and Khari Willis. This year I hope to interview even more prospects so you all can get an inside look at these player’s accomplishments and mindsets going into this next draft.
Our next prospect is linebacker/safety Austin Hall from Memphis. Hall is a versatile player who put together some excellent film over his career in college. We had a great talk about his work in the community, what the “star” position is, and what he will remember most about his time in Memphis.
6’2” 215 pounds
Four-Time AAC All-Academic Team (2015-2019)
Dean’s List (2017-2019)
Two-Time AAC Defensive Player of the Week
All-AAC Honorable Mention (2019)
75 tackles, 9 tackles for a loss, 2.5 sacks, 6 pass deflections, 2 interceptions, 2 fumble recoveries, and 1 touchdown.
Fit with the Colts:
Another linebacker?? Okay, I get the concern but hear me out here. Ballard loves his athletic, lengthy, hybrid type players and has drafted so many in his three years with the Colts. What makes Hall unique is his experience. He has played a position that has made him essentially have to know the roles of safety, slot corner, and linebacker. Adding him as depth on day three to those positions and have him as an asset on special teams seems like a good fit for me. Slot him as the fourth safety next season and utilize him in any role that is needed on the team.
Mid-Late Day 3
Austin Hall appreciation tweet.— Jessica Benson (@Local24Jessica) October 15, 2017
The Collierville native had 2 interceptions & 10 tackles in win over Navy. pic.twitter.com/bxjJd6V2Xv
ZH: I saw you were an All-Academic player throughout college and you are going for your Masters now at Memphis. What are you going for your Masters in and how important were your academics in college?
AH: Yeah so I got my undergrad in Criminal Justice and then I’m working on my Masters— I’ve got two more classes— in Public Administration. My concentration is kind of Public Management and Policy. I was pushing for my Masters in Criminal Justice but they didn’t have a concentration in an administration role so they recommended me to go this route. My lifelong dream was to go into Law Enforcement and I went to Memphis to play football and get a full ride and I just worked my tail off for this shot at the NFL.
But yeah man, academics has been just as important as football. It was definitely hard on my parents because they helped me out a lot my first two years when I was a walk-on and help me out with those expenses. Academics... really it’s part of school. Obviously it’s hard as a full time student-athlete but I’ve done 15 hours every semester, summer school, and I had 12 credits out of high school too so that helped me graduate early in 2018 and helped me start my Masters and nearly finish it by the end of the season (I have just two more classes left).
ZH: Awesome. I also saw that you all were in Dallas this year at a Charity event with the Scottish Rite Hospital. What did you all do there and how was that experience?
AH: They had some different activities but actually me, Coach Silverfield, and Dustin Woodard (starting center) actually went separately to a separate room with a girl and we were able to spend some time with her and.... you know seeing kids like that who are less fortunate than us and being able to bring joy to those kids was great because we wake up each and every day and have healthy lives and can play this great sport and we got to go to that Scottish Rite Hospital and experience what not a lot of people get to experience. There are so many small kids there and it’s really hard to see but we get to just bring happiness and make their day or their hour and it’s really hard but definitely worth it.
ZH: Would you say this experience has opened you up to doing more community service type projects in the future as a result?
AH: The community is always big around sports because people are constantly supporting athletes. Sports are just so big in our whole world and like I said, a lot of people are not as fortunate as us so it is nice to give back to that community that supports us so much. At Memphis we did a lot of things with St. Jude and I think one of the biggest things I did every year was reading to kids in schools, I actually know a lot of teachers in the area from growing up around here, and I would go and read to classes. It is something small but it impacts their life for a few hours and it is absolutely worth it.
ZH: Let’s get to some football now. You played the “star” position for Memphis. What exactly is that defensive position and what are your roles?
AH: I’d say it is like a hybrid safety. I can blitz like a linebacker and cover like a safety. A can drop down in run support but also drop into coverage in man or zone and be all over the defense. They do a lot of different things. Sometimes you’ll be playing a completely different position from week to week depending on the game plan. You have to always know the play call and your technique because your position and role are constantly changing.
ZH: Would you say that is the biggest difference between the “star” position and a traditional linebacker? That you could be in completely different positions from game to game?
AH: Yeah I mean this past year I kind of played a linebacker position. I feel like linebackers are huge run stoppers but as a hybrid, a lot of times you are on the perimeter and a lot of times you are on the edge against tight ends and you gotta be physical enough to play man on tight ends and fast enough to play man on slots occasionally. Yeah it’s a different position because you gotta play like a linebacker but have the speed and quickness to cover like a safety.
ZH: As you prepare for the NFL, are you preparing to play linebacker or safety in your training?
AH: I’ve talked with my agent and he has talked with some scouts and I’m not too sure right now. The biggest focus right now is just putting some speed on me. My focus has really been on the forty time and the other combine drills and doing what I can to get my numbers perfect. I see myself as a multi guy who can do different things and I’ve shown that in my last four years at Memphis. I’m open to play linebacker, I’m open to play strong safety but I’m the type of guy who can do different things. I’ve cut weight down to 215/220 and putting some speed on me and eating better since my college days and I’m ready for wherever they want me. Kind of a hard question when you don’t know (laughs).
ZH: Looking back now, how would you summarize your decision to go to Memphis, your time there, and being a part of that excellent football program?
AH: Man... If it wasn’t for Memphis, I probably wouldn’t be engaged right now to my fiance. I actually knew her back in sixth grade, we actually lived like a four minute walk away from each other, but it is kind of weird that it has all panned out the way it has. I could have gone to a different school and it may have never happened with her so it’s kind of weird but that is probably the biggest joy of going to Memphis. From the football and school aspect, Memphis is a different kind of college town. You are in a community and you go to school in the heart of Memphis, not far from downtown, and there’s a real community there. I mean it’s a great school with a lot of great sports teams. Basketball team is still on the rise and the football team has been phenomenal the five or six years. Winning a conference championship this past year was great and it was a tough year but we were able to pull it off and I’ll never forget that.
ZH: Who would you say is the toughest player you have ever faced against in your college career?
AH: Man... that Penn State running back (Journey Brown) was pretty good for sure. I’d say either him or James Proche from SMU. He’s kind of a slot receiver and it’s really weird because he looks and runs just like Anthony Miller. They look the same, they wore the same number. I’m not saying he’s as good as Anthony Miller, because I don’t think he is, but he was very very good for them and did a lot of special things at SMU.
ZH: Final question for you. What is my NFL team getting if they spend a draft pick on Austin Hall?
AH: You are getting one of the smartest players... a guy who is gonna come to work each and every day. Just give me an opportunity and that’s all I need. I’ll take it and run with it. I don’t doubt myself with anything, I’ve had to work for everything I’ve got in football and I don’t plan on stopping until it’s all over. You will be getting the hardest working dude and also one of the smartest.