It is hard playing college football.
Moreover, it is hard playing college football with one hand.
Somehow redshirt freshman P.J. Hall found a way to be the anchor for the Bearkat defense despite playing the first five games of the season with a broken hand. The 6-foot-1-inch defensive end from Seguin leads the team in tackles for loss, sacks and is third on the roster for total tackles.
“I feel like I’m doing my job and doing what my coach told me to do,” Hall said. “He told me if I do what I’m supposed to do, it’ll lead to big plays, and that’s what i’ve done.”
Hall’s breakout game was SHSU’s 42-10 victory over Lamar. Hall totaled seven tackles, one sack and a blocked field goal. This performance gave Hall his first honor of the career at Sam Houston State, as he was named the SLC Defensive Player of the Week.
As this was happening, Hall was playing with a broken hand.
“P.J. has been performing well for us this fall, and that’s with his left arm in a cast,” head coach K.C. Keeler said in the press conference following the game. “We’re excited to see what he can do when he’s 100 percent.”
Just days later, Hall would be awarded with another honor. Hall was named to the Jerry Rice “watch list” along with 19 other football players across the nation. The Jerry Rice award is award is given to the most outstanding FCS freshman player.
“I’m trying to excel as a defensive player not only in the conference, but in the nation too,” Hall said.
In SHSU’s 38-22 upset over McNeese State, Hall led the Bearkats’ defense with 11 total tackles, three tackles for a loss and two pass breakups in his first game with two free hands. This would give Hall his second SLC Defensive Player of the Week honor. And again, Keeler praised his star defensive end.
“He will be a freshman All-American at the end of this [season],” Keeler said. “He will be one of the best players I will ever be able to coach.”
Keeler’s high praises makes Hall want to continue to have a breakout season.
“It helps me drive to be an even better player because I want to be the best I can be,” Hall said.
Hall added a first to his career – both collegiate and even in high school – to his list in Saturday’s 31-27 loss to Northwestern State. Midway through the fourth quarter, Hall intercepted Demons’ quarterback Zach Adkins to set up another SHSU field goal.
“I was so excited,” Hall said. “I’ve always dreamed of having an interception, especially in college.”
Hall looks to carry on with his impressive first season in Saturday’s Southland Conference match with Abilene Christian at Bowers Stadium. Kickoff is set for 3 p.m.