On the bench with Andre Hall
A few memorable names have been associated with the USF football team. The two younger Gramaticas, Bill and Santiago, Marquel Blackwell and even J.R. Reed, who appeared in a few kickoffs last Super Bowl Sunday.
But those mentioned don’t hold records, like junior running back Andre Hall. Not only does the Dixie Hollins graduate have the single season rushing record of 1,357 yards — the most by any USF running back in a season — but he is also the only Bull to rush for 200 yards in a game.
Oracle Sports Editor Mike Camunas recently sat down with the junior college transfer and got his take on things:
Oracle: Recruiting day was last Wednesday. Tell us about your recruiting day and what coach Leavitt did to get you to USF?
Hall: It was funny. Coach came out to Kansas, where I was at, and all he was like was, ‘Come on and commit.’ And it just happened to be snowing that day. And Kent State was offering, just all the northern teams and schools. He kept saying why wouldn’t you want to be back in the South. But I didn’t commit when he was there. I told him I was going to wait till Sunday to let it be known. Then I went to Texas A&M, and I hated it, man. I just hated it. It was nothing like it is here at USF. So I called up coach and said, ‘I’m coming, man. I’m coming.’ But he didn’t believe me. He said, ‘What?’ I told him, I was coming and signing on (that) Wednesday.
O: When he was recruiting you, did he throw at you that he was a Dixie Hollins alumni, saying that he went there too?
AH: Yeah. He talked about all the Dixie Hollins players, from DeAndrew Rubin to Tchecoy Blount, you know all those guys and how he took care of them. He talked a lot about how they got their degrees and all.
O: Which record do you favor the most? The single- season rushing record or the most yards in a game record?
AH: Probably the single- season record, because that’s what I really came here to do. You know one game doesn’t really matter; it’s more of a season thing for me. That was my main objective of coming over here, to get a 1,000 yards.
O: You had a chance this season to go into the NFL Draft. Why didn’t you go test the draft this year?
AH: I felt that I really wasn’t ready. Not physically, but just mentally. I just wasn’t ready to play in the NFL because I felt like I had to mature a little more. I know how to get my priorities straight and be organized all around, and I really need to mature a little more.
O: Who’s your hero?
AH: My dad. You know, I don’t care what it is or what you’ve done, he don’t get upset. He has a saying he always says, ‘A smart man will learn from his mistakes, but a smarter man will learn from other mistakes.’ And ever since I was a little kid, I used to hear that, and I just heard it, I never really understood it. But as I got older, he kept saying it. He always kept me positive. No matter what he did, he stayed strong.
O: What’s a better college football movie? The Program or Rudy?
AH: (Laughs) I’d have to go with The Program, because The Program is more like real life, more to like what (the players) have to deal with. The steroids, the animosity of people on the team. I like The Program. I like Rudy, but it gets me so sad. And I’m not big on Notre Dame. I don’t even know where it’s at.
O: What’s your least favorite part about practice?
AH: The conditioning. (Laughs) Everything else I love; the drills, the seven on sevens. I just don’t like the conditioning.
O: But you’re the running back. You’re supposed to like running.
AH: I make it fun, because I talk a lot of crap to the other guys when they all get tired.
O: We’ve all seen Leavitt on the sideline doing his rants and making his faces. You’ve got to have an impression of him for us.
AH: (Laughs) I can talk like him and I can do his dance. I scrunch up my face and I’ll do his dance. It’s funny to see. You can never really understand him, so you just gotta say ‘Yes, sir,’ and everything will be alright. Just agree with him and there will be no problems.
O: What do you like to do on your free time? You play a little Madden and what not?
AH: Nah. I don’t like Madden. I get upset too easily. I play chess.
AH: If I’m just sitting around with the guys, I’m playing chess. My main opponent is (defensive back) Danny Verpaele. I was teaching him, but while I was teaching him, I was also beating him.
O: You were taking advantage of him.
AH: But he’ll be OK. I am the best chess player on the football team. Leavitt is scared of me.
O: To be honest, I couldn’t see Leavitt playing chess. I think he’d get mad too easily and make his faces.
AH: (Laughs) Yeah, he’d probably throw the board and do his dance again.
O: So what about all the ladies? You beat them off with a pointy stick and tell them, ‘Nah, I can’t go out with you, I’ve got to play football?’
AH: No time for the girls. No time. Coach Leavitt had a word I can’t remember that he says they always do to us. He always says she’s a problem. That all women are: problems, he says.
O: You agree with that or do you say sometimes, ‘Man, I wish I had a problem?’
AH: (Laughs) Yeah, a lot of times I say that. Sometimes I wouldn’t mind a problem or two.