HUNTSVILLE, Texas -- At 6 feet 1 inch tall, 280 pounds, Sam Houston State junior defensive end P.J. Hall fits the mold you would expect for a Division I player of that position. What separates him, is the quickness and agility usually reserved for a wide receiver or running back.
Through two seasons with the Bearkats, the Seguin product has helped make the squads’ defensive and special teams units as electric as its offense.
“He’s one of the best players I’ve ever coached,” head coach K.C. Keeler said. “He has as quick of a first step I’ve ever seen. He’s just such a talent. We’re really looking forward to him having a big year. He has had two phenomenal years so far. The neat thing is that he’s only a junior.”
Hall, who enters the upcoming season as a STATS FCS First-Team Preseason All-American, has been named to five All-America teams in his two years as a Bearkat. Rightfully so. The two-time All-Southland first teamer is the program’s all-time leader in tackles for loss (52 for 205 yards) and is second in sacks (23).
“We’re looking to take care of business and go 1-0 each week,” Hall said. “We have to make sure we do our job. As a defense, we need to make sure we stop the run. If we can do that, we can make them one dimensional and work to stop the pass. As long as we can stop the run we’ll be fine.”
If the numbers do not speak for themselves, the highlights certainly do. Last year, on a reverse play at McNeese, Hall used a quick-first step to track down a speedy receiver and strength to throw him down like a rag doll for a loss. Against Texas A&M-Commerce, Hall caught an un-expecting quarterback sleeping, bullying him down the ground hurriedly on an effortless-looking shove. The list could go on.
“I feel like the sack against Commerce sticks out,” Hall said. “It was a pretty big hit. I remember I missed a sack before that. I finally got to him so I just had to let my anger out on that one.”
At Seguin High School, Hall dominated at both defensive end and running back. Apart from football, he was accomplished in both powerlifting, the shot put and discus. He could even dunk a basketball. When it came time to making a decision on college, the well-versed athlete found a home in Huntsville.
“What I liked about it when I came on my visit was that everybody seemed like a family,” Hall said. “It felt like home and somewhere I could come and be comfortable. Also, it was a good program. They just came off two national championship runs.”
This year, Hall is one of three returning starters up front defensively, joining fellow defensive end Luis Carreno and defensive tackle Sione Latu. The trio have combined for 83 career starts and under the direction of defensive line coach Rodrique Wright, who played four years with the Miami Dolphins and was a standout at Texas, the unit is primed for a solid year.
“It’s great to be able to be coached by somebody like that,” Hall said of Wright. “You know they’ve done it before so they know what works and doesn’t work. It means more whenever they’ve been there and can show you the way to get to that level too.”
While etching his name into the record book and drawing acclaim nationally has been nice, Hall says that the ultimate goal is much bigger than his leaping ability, which has resulted in 10 block kicks – second in team lore.
“All those records are good to have and accomplish but the main goal is to do what’s best for the team and make sure we get our wins,” Hall said. “The ultimate goal is to win a national championship.”
Fans can catch Hall and the entire team this fall and securing season tickets by calling (936) 294-1729 or by visiting GoBearkats.com. Sam Houston is ranked second nationally in the preseason while the purchase of season seats also includes tickets to the 91st Battle of the Piney Woods at Houston’s NRG Stadium.