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March 18, 2014
Franklin points to Hall as team example
James Franklin's press conference to kick off the beginning of his first spring practice at the helm, a reporter took the opportunity to ask something open-ended.With questions dying down at Penn State head coach
Though much of the lunchtime presser had been dominated by questions regarding specific players and expectations, in the final question of the day, Franklin was asked about particular position battles he might be most looking forward to seeing this spring.
Citing concerns about depth, Franklin said he was looking forward to seeing the guys that hadn't been depended on in the past, but could have an opportunity to take a step forward this spring.
Seemingly finished with his response, Franklin looked down at his notes momentarily and perked up at the sight of one player who had to get a mention during the press conference.
"There is a guy I'd like to mention who I love and have been unbelievably impressed with, and that's Albert Hall," Franklin said. "He's a young man who was a tight end that we moved to offensive line and he works so hard and has such a great attitude.
"That guy is going to find a role on this team somehow. I've called him out in front of the team a number of times because I've been so impressed with him: His approach, his demeanor, his attitude."
Safe to say, Hall's name hadn't been on the radar of any reporter in the room before Franklin's comments.
A redshirt sophomore walk-on out of Warwick, N.Y., Hall has spent the past two seasons moving around the field, from defensive end his true freshman season to tight end last year upon the injury to Matt Lehman. Switching over to offensive tackle this spring under Franklin, at all of 6-foot-4-inches, 245 pounds, the Warwick Valley High School product has the versatility to do it all, according to his former coach in southeast New York, James Sciarra.
In fact, he's been doing it for years.
"If we go way back, he actually played offensive center for me when he was a freshman and a sophomore," said Sciarra. "When I brought him up to varsity, he played some defensive end and then he played tight end for me, but mainly I didn't play with a tight end because we were in the spread. So he was split out. He was more of a wideout."
It was in that role that Hall blossomed. According to Sciarra, attending a 7-on-7 in Virginia run by Mel Kiper Jr., before his senior year, Hall dominated competition from all over.
"It actually just turned into the Hall show where he was probably one of the best players on the field, but he didn't know it," Sciarra said. "He just kind of went out there and did his thing until Mel Kiper Jr., pulled him over."
"So, how many offers do you have?" Kiper asked.
"Uhhh, I don't have any," Hall said.
"Mel looked at him like, 'Wait a minute, you're almost 6-foot-5, you're 230 pounds and you can run like you do. You're athletic. Give me your number and I'll try to help you out a little bit.'"
Though Hall flirted with the idea of attending Towson and other FCS programs, a late opportunity by former Penn State tight end coach John Strollo offered Hall the chance he'd been waiting for.
"It actually turned out that right after the signing, Coach O'Brien had come in. It was Strollo who called me and he asked if Albert had signed anywhere, but we'd like him to just come down and go for a visit," Sciarra said. "Not saying that everything that happened down there was good, but because of everything, he ended up with an opportunity.
"If everything doesn't happen down there, the lack of scholarship opportunities and things like that, you don't need that many walk ons and he doesn't get that opportunity now."
Now that Hall has the opportunity, he's taken advantage of it.
Owning the same attributes he's displayed at Penn State while in high school - all business, constantly in the weight room, and leading other student-athletes - Hall is simply enjoying himself.
From that, Franklin said, the entire group of Nittany Lions can learn.
"I think a lot of us can learn from a guy like that that wakes up every single morning and makes the most of it," he said. "So I've been very pleased with him, and guys like him are what I'm talking about. Maybe by the end of spring he's got a more significant role. We need a number of guys to do that."
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