Will the NFL feeling a draft from Andre?

Since the beginning of Andre Hall’s career, he has been running uphill.

Saturday marks one of the final hurdles for Hall on his potential journey to the NFL. Hall will participate in the Senior Bowl on Saturday with more than 100 possible NFL prospects in the annual all-star game.

Being invited to the event is the culmination of a stellar football career that almost wasn’t. Hall graduated from Dixie Hollins High, but failed to get in to any Division-I programs and spent his first two academic years at the junior college level.

But Hall starred in his junior college role and rushed for more than 1,600 yards in his one season at the Georgia Military Academy and nearly 1,500 yards during his one season at Garden City. As one of the top junior college prospects in the country in 2003, Hall transferred to USF and broke multiple records in his two years with the Bulls.

Now, according to some draft experts, Hall is projected to be a mid-third- or fourth-round pick in the NFL draft. But yet again, Hall was forced to take the long road, even to the Senior Bowl. It was reported this week that Hall’s football equipment was lost en route to Mobile, the site of the Senior Bowl. During Monday’s practice, Hall was forced to wear gear that did not fit, and it apparently affected his performance. Regardless, Hall did impress as the first USF player to be invited to the Senior Bowl.

“(Hall) was not a last-minute fill-in for the Senior Bowl,” said Scott Reynolds, editor in chief of the Pewter Report. “He was invited and that says a lot about him and what he meant to the USF program. (NFL) scouts were impressed that with virtually no passing game he was the target every week and he still produced. I don’t care if you’re playing at USF or Ohio State, that still says a lot.”

Hall is in good company with the other running backs at the Senior Bowl. Hall, who is playing on the South team, is playing alongside Memphis running back DeAngelo Williams, who is slated to be a first-round pick. Also in the mix are Mississippi State’s Jerious Norwood and LSU’s Joseph Addai. While Hall was one of the nation’s leading rushers, the other running backs on the team have had more publicity, especially with Williams.

“The problem with Andre Hall is that it was hard for him to stand out,” Reynolds said. “He is the fourth-best running back on the team. Williams, Norwood and Addai all had really good weeks at practice. Even though Hall had a good week, he kind of gets lost in the shuffle.”Hall may have to take the long road to prove himself at the Senior Bowl, but for the lone Bull in the shuffle, Hall’s road is one he has frequently traveled with success.

Bowl gives decent exposure: Hall first needs to have a chance at success, and his performance in the Senior Bowl will be a big factor in where he is selected in the draft.

Last year, 83 of 100 Senior Bowl participants were drafted, 10 of whom went in the first round. Over the past six years, 537 Senior Bowl players have made it to the NFL.

Along with helping its participants increase their draft stock, the Senior Bowl also lets NFL fans see the future of the league.

This year’s Pro Bowl roster features 26 former Senior Bowl players including quarterback Carson Palmer of the Cincinnati Bengals and Kansas City Chiefs running back Larry Johnson, as well as Senior Bowl Hall of Famer Derrick Brooks of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, named to a Buccaneers-record eighth-straight Pro Bowl.