Arizona Wildcats coach Mike Stoops upgraded the status of junior safety Adam Hall after practice Wednesday, saying, “He’s very close.”
Hall has been out since late March with an ACL tear suffered in spring practice.
“He’s practicing well, so we’ll see,” Stoops said.
“I like what he’s doing. He’s close. He’s very explosive right now. We’ll see tomorrow how he does, how he feels. He was in there getting some contact today, and that’s good. He’s on the right track.”
Hall had 54 tackles and two interceptions last season, when he played nickel back. He earned a reputation as Arizona’s fiercest hitter and one of the defense’s most vocal, energetic players.
His return, even in what would be a limited role at first as he rebuilds stamina, should at least be an emotional boost to a defense in need of something good after getting chewed up by Oklahoma State, Stanford, Oregon and USC in succession.
“He’s a dynamic football player,” defensive coordinator Tim Kish said. “Whether he can be dynamic his first game back, I don’t know. But he’ll breed confidence in everybody else just being out there.”
Said quarterback Nick Foles: “He’s definitely a vocal leader. He’s one of leaders on the team, and he brings a lot of passion to the game. Anytime you get him — or any of the guys who are injured back — that’s really exciting.”
Kish didn’t expound on how the secondary would be shuffled if Hall were able to play. The original plan was to have Hall and Robert Golden at the safety positions, with Marquis Flowers as the nickel back.
In Hall’s absence, Flowers has been a safety and Jourdan Grandon the main nickel back. Grandon likely would be displaced by Hall’s return.
Golden will not return to cornerback, where he started last season, Stoops said this week.
Hall does have a redshirt year available, but it sounds like he’s been willingly pushing himself toward a return this season. He was unavailable for comment after Wednesday’s practice.
Stoops said the redshirt was/is a consideration, depending on the health of the player. But if Hall feels ready, Stoops won’t have any regrets about flashing the green light for this season.
“We have seven games left. There is a lot hanging in the balance,” Stoops said. “You’re not guaranteed anything in life. You have to live in the moment.”
He added: “Adam is a big-time player, and we certainly don’t want to put him out there if he’s not going to be the player that he was before he got hurt. There is a lot to consider, and we’ll weigh those options as we move throughout the week.”
Linebacker Jake Fischer and running back Greg Nwoko, who also suffered ACL injuries in the spring, are targeting a possible return for the Oct. 20 game against UCLA after the bye week, Stoops said recently. Fischer has a redshirt year available, Nwoko does not.
Stoops said holding out Hall through the bye week wouldn’t make sense if he’s ready to play Saturday.
“You have to get out there and play and get a feeling for what you can do,” Stoops said.