Andre Hall, RB/2004-05
You know, I actually feel bad putting him this low. The truth is that if Andre Hall had been at USF for more than two years, I probably would have voted him #1 on my list, and Ken and Toro might have done the same. Considering the circumstances Hall played in, with no other offensive weapons to speak of and every opposing defense gearing up to stop him, what he accomplished in his short USF career was amazing.
Hall transferred to USF in 2004 as the #1 junior college running back recruit in the country. In his two years of juco (one at Georgia Military Academy, and another at Garden City Community College), Hall ran for over 3,000 yards. When he got to Tampa, it took him a couple of games to establish himself in the Bulls backfield, but against TCU he broke out with 184 total yards and four touchdowns in a crazy 45-44 win. (I wrote about this game last month as part of our "Where I Come From" series, so I won't go over it again.) From then on, the offense revolved around Andre Hall. With a weak quarterback and a middling group of receivers, Hall got the ball early and often for the rest of his career.
Here is a partial list of the USF rushing records held by Andre Hall. And remember, he put these numbers up with almost no passing game to take the pressure off him, which makes them even more impressive.
- Most rushing yards in a season (1374)
- Most rushing yards in a career (2731)
- Most rushing touchdowns in a season (13)
- Most rushing touchdowns in a career (23)
- Most 100-yard games (12)
- Most 200-yard games (3)
- Most average yards per game, career (118.7, almost double the second-place average)
- Most rushing/receiving yards, season (1695)
- Most rushing/receiving yards, career (3201)
And it's not like he was getting Kevin Smith or Ricky Wiliams carries here. He had 210 carries in 2004 and 270 in 2005. Instead, he made the most of his attempts, with a career 5.7 yards per carry (second only to Rafael Williams' 5.8).
Hall is the only USF player to be first-team all-conference in two different leagues - Conference USA in 2004, and the Big East in 2005. He was USF's offensive MVP both years, and he was a Sports Illustrated honorable mention All-American in 2005. Hall was also the first Bull to participate in the Senior Bowl, and he briefly played in the NFL for the Denver Broncos in 2007 and 2008.
Andre Hall was an incredible running back, but he was also a committed chess player. Before the 2005 season, in a feature for his USF season preview, Greg Auman asked Hall what his favorite piece was on the chessboard.
"The knight," Hall says, smiling. "You never know if I'm going to go left or right, front or back. You never know. As a knight, you can do many things. You can cover eight spaces. At my position, I have to wear a lot of hats, so it represents me the most."
That's really a perfect way to describe Andre Hall. He played running back like a knight - he made guys miss all over the field, and he was great at finding the hole and setting up his next moves to beat defenders in the open field. But he could run with the power of the queen, too. He broke tackles, pushed piles, and dragged guys for extra yardage. He was easily the best running back USF has ever had, and no one since has come close to replacing him.
There is one more record that Andre Hall holds. Keep reading to find out more about the night he set it.
There are a lot of things I miss about Conference USA football (actually, that's a total lie) but I really miss nights like November 3, 2004. It was USF against UAB on a random Wednesday night in front of an announced crowd of about 9000 people at Legion Field. And just to make sure that no one actually stuck around to watch the game, either in person or on TV, the first quarter or so was played in a gigantic rainstorm.
The Bulls fell behind 20-10 in the third quarter, but they got a Pat Julmiste touchdown run and a long scoring pass to Johnnie Payton to rally for a 24-20 lead. Then right after that came a pick-six from Bruce Gipson to extend the lead to 11. From there, Hall completely took over the game. He ran for a 38-yard touchdown in the middle of the fourth quarter. And then in the last couple minutes, with the Bulls just looking to run out the clock, Hall took a handoff, plowed into the line, and miraculously came clean out the other side. I don't even know how many Blazers defenders could have brought him down in that pile, but he burst through all of them like a bowling ball crashing into the pocket. He kept running for a 63-yard score as I howled with laughter while watching the game in my future in-laws' living room. The final score was 45-20, and Hall finished the game with a school-record 275 yards rushing on 29 carries, with two touchdowns.
The way you know Andre Hall will stick in Bulls' minds for a long time is because every time another physical running back comes into the program, fans start wondering, "Is he the next Andre Hall?" It hasn't happened yet, and it might be awhile before it does. Whoever that running back is will have some huge shoes to fill.
Previous entries: #6 - Anthony Henry, #7 - Mike Jenkins, #8 - Stephen Nicholas, #9 - George Selvie, #10 - Nate Allen, #11 - DeAndrew Rubin, #12 - Hugh Smith, #13 - Kenyatta Jones, #14 - Ben Moffitt, #15 - Chad Barnhardt