Oklahoma's Jeremiah Hall Becoming 'More Versatile' This Offseason
Entering his senior year, Oklahoma tight end/H-back Jeremiah Hall is not content.
Despite being named a first team All-Big 12 selection a season ago, Hall said there’s still plenty of growth in him, specifically in one area of his game — his route running.
“Similar to my leadership and how I took a step towards improving that (this offseason), in my route running it's just making myself uncomfortable,” Hall said during his press conference at last week’s Big 12 Media Days.
It’s not like Hall was one-dimensional in 2020 either. Already an excellent blocker, Hall caught 18 passes for 218 yards and five touchdowns out of the Oklahoma backfield last season.
But he knows as well as anyone just how dynamic the H-back position can be in Lincoln Riley’s offense. Hall redshirted in 2017 when Dimitri Flowers hauled in 26 passes for 464 yards and five touchdowns, including seven catches for 98 yards and a TD in Oklahoma’s famous win at Ohio State.
Riley said Hall wanted to make big strides in his route running during the spring, and he benefitted from being healthy and available for almost every practice.
“No doubt it was a big point for us for him to be able to separate and win more with his route running,” Riley said during his afternoon media session at Big 12 Media Days. “He has really improved.
“He was one of the few guys in spring in that room who was at every practice, and he got a ton of work. It was great for him and embraced it and think played some of his best ball during the spring.”
Interestingly, Hall took an outside-the-box approach to improving his route running. He didn’t want to limit himself by just watching other great fullbacks, he said.
“Instead of watching Dimitri (Flowers), who maybe didn't run as many routes, I'm watching guys like Dede Westbrook. Maybe I can try something that looks like that,” he said. “It's thinking about what helps me. I'm not as fast. I don't run a 4.3, right? So as a big guy, what can I do to beat a linebacker that's maybe taking away my inside? It’s thinking about stuff like that that suits my game.
“That's how I've gotten better over this past offseason.”
New tight ends/H-back coach Joe Jon Finley was credited with helping Hall improve as well. Hall said that since Finley played the position himself, he's been able to teach Hall in a different way than previous tight ends/H-backs coach Shane Beamer.
"What I like about (Finley) is that he played tight end, so he’s able to pinpoint little things that maybe Beamer didn’t talk about as much," Hall said. "(Beamer) is a great coach, it just takes kind of a player to know one, especially the one to play your position at an elite level.
"And so (Finley) brings his own juice to the table and I’m happy to have him in the room and he’s doing a great job so far."
Hall may never emerge as a massive threat in the receiving game, but taking steps forward can only serve to empower Riley’s offense.
Any improvement out of the Charlotte, NC, native allows Riley to get more creative, running more plays out of the exact same personnel groupings and only serving to make the job of defenses that much harder. And that’s the beauty of Riley’s offense.
He will always play to the strengths of his players. It’s just icing on the cake when those players expand that pool of strengths for Riley to play with.
“You appreciate a guy like that who takes something, it’s not that he’s been bad at it, but it hadn’t been a strong suit in his career and really worked at it,” Riley said. “His route running took a major jump there, which is going to make him a much more versatile player.”