“I have a connection with the (Miami) coaches. I feel like I’m back in high school when I talk to them. I just hope I can go in there and contribute as a freshman.” Darion Hall, Lely running back, on his choice of Miami University to play football.
With 22 college football teams knocking down his door, Lely High School running back Darion Hall said last month he wanted to take his time before picking a school. He didn’t plan to make a decision until well into the upcoming season.
In the end, the allure of the University of Miami, one of Hall’s favorite teams growing up, was too great to ignore.
Hall made his decision official Tuesday night when he called Hurricanes’ coaches to verbally commit to the program. The area’s leading rusher with 1,791 yards last season, Hall now hopes to graduate from Lely in December and enroll at Miami in January in order to participate in spring workouts.
“I just wanted to get (the decision) out of the way so I could focus on getting my school work done,” Hall said. “I’ve talked it over with my mom, and we both wanted me to go to Miami.”
Though the Hurricanes have always been high on Hall’s list, it wasn’t an easy decision. He had scholarship offers from more than 10 schools in NCAA Bowl Championship Series conferences. Hall also was strongly considering Florida State, Clemson and Michigan.
It’s been Hall’s longtime dream to play at Miami, but he said he put a lot of thought into other schools. Lely coach Steve Pricer said he had lengthy conversations with Hall about picking a college.
“We made a list of pros and cons of in-state and out-of-state schools,” Pricer said. “We really spent a few hours on that. It came down to him wanting to go to Miami all along.”
Hall said, “I have a connection with the (Miami) coaches. I feel like I’m back in high school when I talk to them. I just hope I can go in there and contribute as a freshman.”
Collier County has a history of running backs playing for the Hurricanes. Immokalee graduates, Edgerrin James played at Miami from 1996 to 1998, and Javarris James, Edgerrin’s cousin, will be a senior this fall.
Born in 1991, Hall was too young to remember Edgerrin James’ days at Miami. The Lely back said, however, that he followed James during his time with the NFL’s Indianapolis Colts.
“He was kind of my idol growing up,” Hall said.
Hall now is eager to follow in James’ footsteps. Pricer said Hall has the skills to do it. Since coming to Lely as an assistant in 1977, Pricer said he hasn’t seen a running back as good as Hall.
“If I had to say he was like someone, I’d say he’s a lot like Edgerrin James in his physicality and speed and shiftiness,” Pricer said.
With 2,350 all-purpose yards and 23 touchdowns as a junior, his first full-time varsity season, Hall said he hopes to gain 2,000 yards on the ground this season. He also wants to guide the Trojans to the regional playoffs for the second straight season.
With his college choice out of the way, Hall said he can concentrate full-time on leading Lely to victories as well as preparing to graduate in December.