The Parade All-American jinx didn’t bite the University of Arizona twice, and Wildcats fans might owe a rival Pac-10 Conference coach a ‘thank you’ for that.
Palo Verde High School football star Adam Hall announced Friday morning he will stay home to play college football for the Wildcats, the team his father played for in the 1970s and the team he’s loved since he was old enough to carry a football.
“(Mike Bellotti) said, ‘After all of this being said and what you know, why aren’t you going to Arizona?’” Hall said of a recent recruiting conversation he had the University of Oregon head coach. “I looked (at him), and I couldn’t answer the question.”
While top-tier programs from across the country tried to lure him, it became increasingly apparent the perfect fit was in his own backyard.
“Tucson behind me helped a lot,” he said.
Hall, in many ways becomes one of the crown jewels of UA coach Mike Stoops’ 2009 football recruiting class. In addition to being highly-sought after by almost every team in the Pac-10, Hall also becomes one of the highest-rated Arizona prep stars, and certainly the highest-rated Tucson athlete, to commit to Stoops in his tenure coaching the Wildcats.
Salpointe Catholic’s Kris O’Dowd, also a Parade All-American, spurned the Wildcats for USC at a similar press conference in December 2006.
Now, the expectations Hall has for UA’s future couldn’t be higher.
“I want to compete for a national championship and a Rose Bowl,” said Hall, who anticipates competing next fall for a starting safety spot in the UA defense while also getting some limited opportunities on offense and on special teams. “That was one of my big things wherever I go. Competitors don’t like to lose.”
The improvement shown this past season under Stoops, including a bowl win, were big in Halls decision. So were the losses.
“Since I was around them so much, I got to see the real them,” said Hall, who attended every UA home game this season and traveled to Las Vegas for the Wildcats bowl game vs. BYU. “. . . I saw what it is all the time – not sometimes when they’re up, not sometimes when they’re down. I saw it all.”
Surrounded by nearly 20 family members chanting “U of A!, U of A!” after his announcement, Hall chose the Wildcats over two other finalists – California-Berkeley and Oregon.
Many schools recruited Hall as a wide receiver early on in the process, but his hard-hitting playmaking ability on defense wa too much for most schools to ignore, which was fine with Hall.
“You can’t win national championships without defense,” Hall said. “. . . I definitely intend on getting a chance to play a lot next year.”
The versatile 6-foot-5, 210-pound Hall wasn’t just Tucson’s best offensive player this past season, he was also the best defensive player and most dangerous special teams weapon.
But before he strung together one of Tucson’s all-time great single season performances, he landed himself on the national recruiting stage last summer when he received, in person, a scholarship offer from USC coach Pete Carroll during the Trojans’ Rising Stars football camp.
His stock continued to rise as he dominated Palo Verde opponents this fall. Titans coach Todd Mayfield knew his team had its best chance to win if Hall touched the ball as much as possible. So, in addition to letting Hall return kicks and punts and play defense, Mayfield moved him from wide receiver to running back for his senior season.
The results were undeniable. In 12 games, including a few blowouts in which he didn’t play much in the second half, Hall scored 38 touchdowns – 25 rushing, six receiving, three kick returns, two interception returns, one punt return and one fumble return.
Palo Verde went 10-2, thanks largely to Hall’s exploits, regaining the 4A Gila Region championship from rival Santa Rita, only to see Santa Rita knock the Titans out of the state playoffs in the 4A Division II quarterfinals on a last-second field goal.
After the season ended, the building of Hall’s impressive football resume did not. He was named Player of the Year by the Tucson Citizen, the Arizona Republic and the Arizona Daily Star. He was named All-American by Parade, MaxPreps.com, the U.S. Army All-American Bowl and Super Prep while also being selected to play in two post-season national all-star games.
Halls’ father, Rev. James Hall, played for Arizona in the 1970s. James Hall said the fan in him wanted his son to be a Wildcat all along, but knew Friday’s announcement was about more than just his son.
“It’s a great day for Tucson,” said the proud father who donned a blue UA visor. “Tucson athletics needs to be recognized. Kris O’Dowd opened the door a couple of years ago to high-profile recruiting and I believe Adam benefitted from that.”
Football’s national signing day is Wednesday. That is the first day players can sign letters of intent to accept scholarships. Until a letter of intent is signed by both parties, all agreements are non-binding.
The NCAA prohibits coaches from commenting on prospective recruits until letters of intent are signed.
For more on high school sports, check out the Grammer School sports blog.
The Adam Hall File
Name: James Adam Hall
School/class: Palo Verde High School, Sr.
Height/Weight: 6-foot-5, 210-pounds
Past coverage: 2008 Tucson Citizen Player of the Year article
Position: Wide receiver, running back, safety, return specialist
Recruiting ratings: Rivals.com 4-star (ranked No. 152 overall, No. 12 athlete); Scout.com 4-star (No. 26 wide receiver)
2008 season scoring: 38 touchdowns (25 rushing, 6 receiving, 3 kick return, 2 interception returns, 1 punt return, 1 fumble return)
Honors/awards: Parade All-American, U.S. Army All-American (played in All-American Bowl in San Antonio), MaxPreps.com second team All-American, Super Prep All-American, selected to play in the Hawaii/Polynesian vs. Mainland Bowl all-star game, Tucson Citizen Player of the Year, Arizona Republic big Schools Player of the Year, Arizona Daily Star Player of the Year, Arizona Football Coaches Association First Team All-State (two times)