NY Jets: 3 things to know about rookie CB Bryce Hall
By Justin Fried
NY Jets’ fifth-round pick Bryce Hall shined at Virginia both on and off the field.
The NY Jets seemingly placed an emphasis on adding high-character leaders in the 2020 NFL Draft and fifth-round pick Bryce Hall is a shining example of that.
A former second-team All-American selection, Hall starred at the University of Virginia earning first-team All-ACC honors in a junior season where he led the FBS in passes defended.
It was his second year as a starter — and just his third playing the position (we’ll get to that) — but Hall was already showing the potential to be an early-round NFL draft pick.
Unfortunately, his college career was ended prematurely following a devastating ankle injury that wiped out all but six games of his senior season. Hall went from a possible Day 1 selection all the way to the middle of Day 3.
The talent wasn’t a question with Hall, but the medicals were.
He was invited to play in the 2020 Senior Bowl but was forced to hold out due to his injury. The same was true for the NFL Combine as his ankle injury left him watching from the sidelines.
However, Hall showed in college that he has the talent to be a top-flight cornerback in the NFL. That being said, what about Hall’s story off the field?
Bryce Hall has quite an interesting backstory that many Jets fans don’t know about. So with that, let’s take a look at three things you might not have known about the Jets’ fifth-round pick.
Next: 3. He didn't play cornerback until college
3. NY Jets’ cornerback Bryce Hall didn’t play CB until college
Bryce Hall didn’t waste much time making an impact at Virginia starting seven games as a true freshman before transitioning to a full-time starter by his sophomore season.
Considering his early success, most would probably assume that Hall was a highly-touted recruit who racked up numerous accolades as a high-school cornerback.
But in reality, that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Hall was a very successful high school athlete starring at Bishop McDevitt High School in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. But he didn’t do so on defense. Instead, Hall thrived as a receiver in high school earning all-state honors in the process.
Originally, the Pennsylvania native received modest interest from FCS-level schools like Coastal Carolina, Duquesne, and New Hampshire. It wasn’t until Virginia came calling that things got interesting.
The Cavaliers program had a need at the cornerback position and head coach Bronco Mendenhall recognized Hall’s potential in that role despite the fact that he played almost exclusively wide receiver in college.
Amazingly, Virginia decided to offer Hall a scholarship as a two-star athlete (per Rivals.com) and Hall was officially switched over to the defensive side of the ball that season.
So despite not playing the position in high school, Hall managed to start over half of his team’s games as a true freshman for an ACC program.
If that isn’t a testament to his work ethic and intelligence I don’t know what is.
Next: 2. He almost gave up football for basketball
2. NY Jets’ cornerback Bryce Hall almost gave up football for basketball
Hall was a very successful football player in high school, but that wasn’t the only sport he excelled at. As has been the theme with many Joe Douglas additions this offseason, Hall was a two-sport star in high school playing both football and basketball.
But his story is a little different than some of the others that we’ve covered in that he nearly quit football in favor of his other sport. In fact, he actually did — for a very brief period of time.
As the story goes, Hall approached his high school football coach, Jeff Weachter, following his sophomore season and informed him of his intentions to quit playing football to focus on basketball.
Weachter responded with an emphatic “You’re kidding. At best, you’re a Division-II basketball player. You’re a D-I football player.”
Hall originally continued with his promise even watching his team’s first scrimmage from the bleachers. But eventually, he realized he was making a mistake.
“He called me the next day on Sunday and said ‘Coach, I made a horrible mistake. Can I still come out?’ I said ‘Of course. But you’re not going to start the first couple games.’ I understood because that’s just Bryce. He wants to be perfect at everything he does, and he wanted to spend that time perfecting basketball.”
That decision turned out to be one of the best moves Hall could have made because just a few years later he was earning All-American honors at Virginia establishing himself as one of the best cornerbacks in the entire country.
And not to doubt his basketball abilities, but it’s unlikely he would have found the same level of success on the hardwood.
But who knows, as his former coach recalled, “he wants to be perfect at everything he does.” It probably isn’t wise to doubt him.
Next: 1. He's a local legend for his community service
1. NY Jets’ cornerback Bryce Hall is a local legend for his community service
Here is where we begin to talk about Bryce Hall the person and all of the incredible work he has done off the field.
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At just 22-years-old, Hall has become somewhat of a local legend in the Charlottesville area — the location of Virginia’s campus — for his off-field efforts.
Hall remains a volunteer teacher of reading and writing skills in various elementary schools in the surrounding area. And as Jordan Reid of The Draft Network puts it, “Hall is widely known in the Charlottesville area because of his community service.”
The 22-year-old was honored with the T. Rodney Crowley, Jr. Memorial Scholarship in May of 2019, an award given to a rising fourth-year student who exemplifies “leadership, sportsmanship, character, and integrity.”
And just as a general rule, he’s been universally beloved by his teammates and university since his arrival at Virginia. Reid later continued with his praise of Hall’s character.
“There isn’t a bad word uttered about Hall throughout the program and he’s been labeled as the face of it since being named a starter as a true freshman. Hall is a high academic prospect and the leader of many organizations on campus. A team captain that represents the program with the utmost importance.”
Hall is just one of those guys who’s so easy to root for. A genuinely positive person off the field, Hall’s high-character and charitable efforts should allow him to become a fan-favorite in New York in no-time.
Just as a quick editorial note, he reminds me a lot of Kelvin Beachum. Just someone who is impossible not to like.
Given the hardship he’s had to face recovering from his devastating ankle injury, Jets fans will certainly be rooting for Hall to return to full health and make a positive impact in his rookie season.