When your father’s a former NFL player, you have some pretty big shoes to fill.
That’s the case for Pittsburg State edge rusher Keiondre Hall, the son of Carlos Hall, a 6-year NFL veteran who got drafted in 2002 after an accomplished career with the Arkansas Razorbacks. Now, after his own successful collegiate career, Keiondre looks to not carry on the family legacy, but also forge a path of his own.
A 6-foot-3, 237-pounder with long arms and a quick first step, Hall concluded a 6-year tenure with the Gorillas that ended in a 12-1 season with an undefeated regular season and an appearance in the Division II playoffs.
Hall spoke with Windy City Gridiron about his experience at the Tropical Bowl, his arsenal as a pass-rusher, his preparations for the 2023 NFL Draft, and more.
JI: You recently got to perform in the Tropical Bowl. What was that experience like for you?
KH: It was a great experience. First, I want to say thanks to Mike [Quartey] for even getting me the invite from the FCS Bowl to the Tropical Bowl. It was a very good experience. It was a great time. It’s great connecting with different players from different levels and being able to show my talent in front of different scouts from each team in different leagues, as well.
JI: What was it like to interact with professional scouts and coaches?
KH: It was good to get a perspective from them on what they will see me as in the next level, or what I need to work on to get to the next level. It’s good to talk to those guys and just pretty much see where I’m at and see what I need to do to elevate my game and raise my draft stock.
JI: Pittsburg State had a great season finishing 12-1 and getting to Round 2 of the D2 playoffs. What did it mean to you to finish your collegiate career with that strong of a season?
KH: It was great. It was a great accomplishment. It wasn’t what we wanted to end with; we wanted to end up winning the full, NCAA Division II playoffs. We weren’t able to do that, but it was a good way to finish out a strong career. We went through some adversity through my first few years there; [we] got a coaching change and everybody just bought in from there.
JI: Your record’s been getting better each of the last few seasons. What do you think went into that?
KH: Leadership. We have a lot of guys that stepped up this past season. We had, I think, over 10 seniors on the team, so a bunch of us stepped up as seniors [and] took over leading. It’s more of a player-led team. We held each other accountable to the standard that our coaches want us to play, but our coaches also did a great job of putting us in position to make the right plays and do our job whenever we needed to do.
JI: What would you say is the top pass-rushing move in your arsenal right now?
KH: I like the ghost rush move. I like to use the long arm a lot because I have very long arms, so it works to my advantage if I get a good get off coming off the edge.
JI: What goes through your mind when you’re figuring how to beat a guy after the snap?
KH: In the moment, I really don’t think about it as much, but it’s more of a reaction. In the moment, I just go off of what the offensive tackle gives me. He gives me a quick set, then I try to work back inside. If he chooses to...not really a quick set, but allows me to rush up field. If he doesn’t give me a quick set, that’s when I would like to use my long arms and drive him into the backfield with a long arm rush.
JI: Your dad played in the NFL for a few years after a strong career at Arkansas. What was it like growing up with that strong of a football pedigree?
KH: Football is something I’ve always been around my whole life, because with him being in league, I just grew up watching him. Every time his game was on, I was watching. I grew up with that lifestyle, with the NFL player lifestyle, because I was always around them: always going to places with them, going with him to sign autographs at times, and I remember it all like it was yesterday. My goal is just to try to get myself there and put myself in those shoes.
JI: That’s gotta be really cool growing up with that experience.
KH: It is really nice to have that experience, because he also does a good job of talking me through whatever I’m going through, because he’s already been through what I’m trying to get to. He knows the path that I need to take [to get there]. Pretty much any information that I get from him, I soak it all to the best ability I can.
JI: I know you’re a Columbia, Missouri guy. Were you watching Mizzou in March Madness this year?
KH: Yep, I was following pretty big. I was hoping they pulled it off [in the tournament], especially against Princeton [in the Round of 32].
JI: I’m a Mizzou guy, so I just wanted to know what you thought about the loss.
KH: It was a disappointment, but I can’t be too mad at them about the season that they had. They did overachieve from what a lot of people were expecting. It’s a tough one. It kind of reminds me of the team back in the day whenever they lost to Norfolk State in the first round.
JI: I think they were the No. 2 seed that year.
KH: Phil Pressey was in his [second] year, Mike Anderson was gone.
JI: It ended poorly, but this season itself was so much fun to watch.
KH: But I will say whenever they beat Tennessee, I kind of raised my eyes a little bit. I started watching most of their games, [after] they beat them at the buzzer on the road.
JI: How do you spend your free time outside of football?
KH: Outside of football, I like to work out a lot. I mean, pretty much everything I do kind of goes around football. The reason I workout is for football. Outside of football, I like to watch a little bit of film in my free time, but nothing to do with football, I like to do things like landscaping, go fishing. I like to play basketball — not like actual games; I like to shoot around. I don’t really do too much. Most of my time goes toward working out watching film or just doing stuff outside.
JI: With school ending, you’re probably gonna end up with even more free time.
KH: Yeah, definitely. I graduated December. [I have the] semester off school, so I’ve just been focused on training every day, waking up, getting in the weights every day. It’s definitely been way more free time, way more relaxing to not have to worry about homework or worrying about having to go to class, being in class on time and all that other stuff.
JI: Let’s say I’m an NFL general manager. What would I be getting if I drafted you to my team?
KH: You’d be getting a guy that will come in and pretty much do whatever is asked for me or asked from me, and some more. I’m a guy that’s gonna be on time for everything [and] bust my butt in everything I do: work extra hard, probably put extra time in. I’m just gonna do whatever I can and whatever is asked of me from the organization that comes and brings me in. I’m a good team player, a good locker room guy. I feel like I could help teams not really struggling team chemistry, but I would help the team chemistry in the locker room just by being a good person and good guy. Pretty much just show up, go to work, and get better every day.
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