Fullbacks are used to being the unsung heroes in the backfield.
Redshirt freshman Merritt Hall has only accounted for two of Georgia’s 237 rushing attempts this season.
So far, his main duty has been to block for the freshman tailback tandem of Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall, and Hall said he has enjoyed doing it.
“They’ve been having a great season so far and it’s been awesome being able to lead the way for them,” Hall said.
Coach Mark Richt said he knows that in order for a rushing attack to be successful, the fullback must be just as sharp as the running backs.
“The fullback, a lot of times if he’s the lead blocker, he’s got to read the blocking schemes just as much and maybe more so than the back,” Richt said. “If the fullback is right, then the tailback is right.”
The preferred walk-on from Alpharetta was named the team’s Outstanding Walk-On after spring practices and saw rewards for his effort when Richt named him the starter.
“Just knowing that all the help I’ve had in the offseason and all the work that I’ve put in is paying off, is a great feeling,” Hall said. “That’s why you’re always in the weight room, you’re always running and you’re always trying to get better to get to that
No. 1 spot to help your team win games.”
This fall, the 5-foot-11, 238-pound Hall was one of a handful of walk-ons to receive a scholarship.
Hall said he was blessed to receive it, and it has given him extra motivation to show his coaches that they made the right decision.
“It’s one of the best feelings I’ve ever had once I got it,” he said. “It kind of made me work even harder to keep it and show the
coaches that I deserved it by practicing hard every day on the practice field.”
Through his first six games, Hall’s 10 yards from scrimmage put him at eighth on the team in rushing, but he is content with his current role in the offense.
“I’m happy with whatever I get. I love blocking, and getting the ball is a plus,” he said. “If that’s in the game plan, then I’m excited to run it and I’m going to run it as hard as I can. Hopefully, I can score a touchdown.”
It is easy to assume that Hall’s intensity on the gridiron stems from a desire to prove those who passed up on him wrong, but the redshirt freshman holds no such grudge.
“I wouldn’t say (I’m) playing with a chip on my shoulder. Anything I do on the football field I’m going to be going full-speed, 100 percent (and) I’m going to be physical in whatever I’m doing,” he said. “That’s what football is. It’s a physical game and I’m going to play it like that. That’s how I have the most fun.”
Richt expects more carries for his young fullback, and the two powerful rushes Hall has had displayed how big of a load he can be to tackle.
“We’ve already seen just a couple opportunities of him running the football,” Richt said. “He’s going to hammer it in there and he’s not going to be an easy guy to bring down. He’s a very tough kid.”
After a weekend of relaxing with his family on their farm in LaGrange during the bye week, Hall said he and the team are fresh and ready to take care of business against Kentucky after a strong week of practice.
“We’re all rested up and we’re ready to hit the second half of this season full-tilt,” Hall said. “When we’re out in practice, it’s all about executing. It’s all about perfecting your game and the game plan that we have for the next opponent. I think this week we’ve been doing an awesome job with that.”