Breece Hall - Deep Dive
Edition #129 - All you need to know about the latest Jets RB.
☀️ Good morning!
It’s Friday! This means that after the draft weekend last week, tomorrow will be the first time in 12 days there won’t be a TJW newsletter, it’s been an awesome couple of weeks but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t looking forward to a short 2 day rest!
Today we’re going to get right back into the deep dives though. I asked you guys on Twitter who you’d like to see next, and Breece Hall came out on top. If you missed the Garrett Wilson one earlier this week then you can read that HERE, but before we get to Hall, here are your quick throws.
🙌 Congratulations to Jets OT George Fant who was honored at the United Ways Gridiron Gala. He was given the Hometown Hero award for his work with the Fant Foundation which he founded with his wife Chastity in 2019. The foundation's goal is to strengthen, enrich, and support today's youth through different events including the 'Dream Big Camp', a celebrity softball game, a turkey drive, financial wellness seminars, and more.
🤝 The Jets claimed former Eagle guard/center Nate Herbig yesterday, he allowed 1 sack over 482 snaps last season and has experience playing LG, RG and some center. I would argue that he instantly becomes the best backup guard/center on the roster.
🐯 The Jets have invited UDFA and former Princeton Tiger linebacker Jeremiah Tyler to rookie mini-camp which starts today. 14 pressures, 2 sacks, 58 total tackles, 6 TFL. Won the Bushnell Cup as the Ivy League Defensive Player of the Year. 6'1 225lb Detroit native.
🗣 QUOTE - Jeremy Ruckert on being selected by the Jets: "It was deafening once I put the hat on and once [my parents] found out who was on the other end of that call," Ruckert told reporters after he was drafted. "They were just so excited. I mean, it's hard to say and it's hard to believe, but this means just as much to them as it does for me. And that means a lot to me in general, just because of all the support that they've given me throughout my life, doing everything they could to help me be where I am today. I'm so grateful for that and I'm so grateful to have such a close family that's going to continue to support me along this journey."
Breece Hall - Deep Dive 💦
The Jets loved Breece Hall, they loved Breece Hall so much they tried to trade back into the first round to get him, convinced he was one of the best playmakers in the entire draft. When that wasn’t possible they had an agonizing wait to see if he would still be available come day two. The Jets moved up two spots in the draft to select Hall before the Texans had the chance to beat them to it.
With that selection at #36, he became the highest-drafted RB for the Jets since 1990, a year in which Gang Green selected Blair Thomas out of Penn State at #2 overall. The last time the Jets took a running back in the second round they selected LaMont Jordan 49th overall in 2001.
Hall was born in Omaha Nebraska in 2001 but grew up in Wichita, Kansas. He was a star running back from pretty much the moment he stepped foot on the field for Wichita Northwest High School, although he did have to wait his turn. During his Junior season, he rushed for 2,082 yards and scored 36 total touchdowns, and then rushed for 2,127 more his senior year on his way to being named First-Team All-Metro, First Team All-State, and Wichita Metro Player of the Year.
During his early years, he played on the defensive side of the ball and then started making some plays at Quarterback as well. But before he started dominating high school football in his Junior year, his high school coach sat him down for a talk that may have just switched that lightbulb on:
“I said, ‘Breece, you could be the best back to ever come out of this high school, but you’re going to have to start acting like that — performing like that,’” Martin recalled. “And that meant from being in the classroom, to in the weight room and to take training seriously. As a freshman and sophomore, he probably relied on his athleticism that God gave him.”
When Hall returned for his Junior season he was all business and the results speak for themselves. He Broke Northwest’s single-season rushing record after averaging 10.4 yards per carry. He had four games of 200-plus yards and ran for at least 120 yards in every game he played.
Breece’s high school coach Steve Martin was kind enough to answer some questions for me about Hall and the first one I asked was about when he knew he had a special talent on his hands and one moment that stood out from his high school days.
“As a sophomore we decided to give him the start in our last game and he took one of his first carries 75 yards to the house against the State Champs. His Senior Year in the Quarterfinals he took a run about 67 yards for a TD but he had to run for about 108 to get there. He was running a stretch play that broke down and he reversed field dodged two kids then took it up the opposite sideline”
His natural athleticism, speed, agility, and acceleration were evident from a young age. Hall was a dominant force in High School and in one game against the West Pioneers back in 2018 he accounted for 36 of the 56 points scored by Northwest having rushed for three touchdowns, caught two more, and returned a punt for a touchdown.
Despite dominating he was considered a 4* prospect leaving high school, being ranked by 247 Sports as the 135th best prospect in the nation, the 7th best running back, and the best player in Kansas. Hall’s scouting report leaving high school read:
“Thick, compact build with a big base and strong lower body with big, strong hands. Is a dominant high school player in Kansas, rarely if ever playing against players with his level of talent. Runs with good body lean and contact balance. Shows strong cutting ability, getting upfield quickly. Moves around some in his team’s offense and has good pass-catching ability and versatility in that regard. Instinctive and effective as an outside runner in zone blocking schemes. Has a long stride and requisite speed, but isn’t a pure burner. Projects as a productive multi-year starter with All-Big 12 and mid-round draft potential”1
Breece may have received 17 scholarship offers and Tennessee pushed hard to secure his commitment, but Iowa State made the most sense and Hall committed to the Cyclones in June 2018. Not only would he have a chance to play early but he’d also be working under Matt Campbell who’s quickly gaining a reputation for putting running backs in the NFL. Kareem Hunt was with him in Toledo and Davin Montgomery at Iowa State, now Breece Hall…and presumed 2022 starter Jirehl Brock has some serious talent as well.
You only have to listen to Breece talk about Matt Campbell to understand just how big a part the Iowa State head coach has played in Hall’s development. When asked what Campbell means to him he said:
“Everything. He’s been coach, best friend, father-figure, and like a big brother. Our relationship’s real tight. I know I can come to him for anything. For me to know that he cares about me for more than me bring a football player— that made us that much stronger. He’s my guy. He’s cool. He’s chill. He’s crazy competitive.”2
It’s easy to forget just how good Hall was back in his Freshman year of 2019, he had 209 touches from scrimmage and racked up 1149 yards and 10 touchdowns. The reason we forget about his 2019 season is because of how good he was in 2020 and 2021.
But his coming out party against West Virginia his freshman year will live long in the memory. He rushed for 132 yards and 3 touchdowns as Iowa State walked away with a 38-14 victory, after that result Matt Campbell was all praise for his latest start:
“The one thing Breece does have is natural running back vision,” Iowa State coach Matt Campbell said. “That vision and understanding of the offense certainly allows him ... to accelerate where he’s going to go with the ball.”
Some of that early success has to be attributed to just how quickly Hall learned the offense, there were similarities between the inside zone system that Iowa State runs and the offense he ran in high school, but it was the dedication to learn the terminology that allowed him to flourish and it was noticed:
"Very impressed by him," Iowa State offensive coordinator Tom Manning, who also coaches the running backs, said. "Breece has done a really good job of picking up the offense."
Iowa State always had the confidence to put the ball in Hall’s hands, not only because he didn’t record a single fumble in college, but because there was a trust there that he was made for those big moments:
"To me, the word is consistency for Breece. There's a real sense of professionalism and consistency that he brings to how he attacks the sport. And that part has allowed our team to really be able to use him in the most critical moments. You talk scoring, those are critical moments. And Breece has always been ready for the moment."3
Hall finished his Cyclone career with 718 rushing attempts over three years, totaling 3941 yards, 5.5 yards a carry, 50 rushing touchdowns, 82 receptions for 734 yards, and 6 touchdowns. He was a unanimous All-American in 2020 and a consensus All-American in 2021, both years winning the Big-12 Offensive Player of the Year award. In fact, he was the first-ever Iowa State player to be named a unanimous All-American, he also finished 6th in the Heisman Trophy voting in 2020.
Hall clocked up an impressive resume in college and helped Iowa State to a number of famous wins, including a 37-30 win against Lincoln Riley and the Oklahoma Sooners, the first victory for the Cyclones over Oklahoma since 1960. Shortly after the victory was secured, Breece’s high school coach Steve Martin tweeted:
“I remember telling Coach Riley in my office they were missing out on Breece! 2 years in a row he busts their butts! Wonder if he remembers that now. He is where he should be! Proud of that kiddo”
Hall may have received 17 scholarship offers, but Oklahoma wasn’t one of them. If you’ve watched any Sooner football over the past few years you’ll know they could have done with a Breece Hall.
There are so many stats that you can reel off about Hall’s time at Iowa State and why he was worthy of first-round consideration in the NFL Draft. You can start with the 21 touchdowns scored in 2020, followed by 20 touchdowns in 2021. 713 of his 1472 yards last year came after contact, and he forced 76 missed tackles. He had 36 runs of 10 or more yards and 22 runs of 15+ yards. He didn’t commit a single penalty and he caught 90.2% (37/41) of passes thrown his way, he had 328 yards after the catch and had a measly 2.6% drop percentage. He set an FBS record by rushing for at least one touchdown in 24 consecutive games, and that streak is still going as he suits up for the Jets.
Those are the stats, but he meant so much more to Iowa State, he was a leader and team captain, a power for good in the local community, and a good student in the classroom.
I asked Steve about Breece’s success at Iowa State and if it was a surprise to his high school coaching staff:
“No we felt during the recruting process that Iowa State with their staff he would have the most success there and a chance to play early. He took advantage of it when they gave him the nod his Freshmen year vs West Virginia and never looked back!”
Hall wore the #28 at Iowa State to honor his stepdad Jeff Smith, who was a 10th-round pick of Kansas City in the 1985 draft. He won’t be able to wear the same number in New York, with Curtis Martin having already secured the retirement of that number.
New York Jets
So what are the Jets getting in Hall, according to the man himself:
“Jets fans are getting a three-down back, a guy that can catch the ball, make people miss, run you over,” Hall said. “Somebody that plays hard. And a person who’s just as good off the field as he is on the field. So a guy that’s going to impact the community and be more than a football player.”
With Michael Carter already in the fold, the Jets will now have one of the best one-two punches in the conference and maybe even the league. The Jets will need to work out how they’ll use them to complement each other, but Hall was a big fan of Michael Carter and what he was able to do in year one:
“I got to watch his game a lot, just watch how he’s a bruiser but he can also make you miss,” Hall said of Carter, per the Jets’ post-draft transcript. “I think I can come in and compliment him really well. I can’t wait to get in there and learn from him.”
When talking about the selection of Hall, Jets GM Joe Douglas could barely hide his excitement, there was a twinkle in his eye and a grin dying to escape as he exclaimed:
“The thing that jumps out with him is that he’s a home run threat, he can score from anywhere on the field. Excellent elusiveness, excellent balance through contact, and another guy who can be a weapon in the passing game. He has really natural ball skills, and he’s a tough tackle in open space. He’s one of the more elusive backs. We feel like we have one of the more elusive backfields with him, Mike (Carter), Tevin (Coleman), and Ty (Johnson).”
I asked Hall’s high school coach what we can expect from Breece as a New York Jet:
“Buckle your seat belts because you are going to fall in love with a great human being. He is a better person off the field then he is on!”
Everywhere you look you have people wanting to tell you just how good Breece is as a player and as a human. Randy Peterson of the Des Moines Register waxed poetic about Hall and what he’s going to bring to the bright lights of New York City:
"If it's an old-school running back with a new-wave edge you were seeking in the NFL Draft — you got him. Iowa State's Breece Hall is as throwback as they come. Standout rusher with top-end speed? Check. Soft enough hands to catch passes out of the backfield? Check. Low-to-the-ground and balanced blocker? Checkmate.
"In New York, Hall will become an immediate threat with star potential.
Patience + Acceleration
This is the aspect of Breece’s game that reminds me of Jonathan Taylor. He doesn’t just run blindly, he shows a real appreciation for timing, being patient to allow his lineman to open up lanes, and as soon as they’re open he puts on the Jets and that acceleration is very real. Here’s an example from the Fiesta Bowl against Oregon.
Power + Missed Tackles
Hall is a 217 pound back who ran a 4.39 forty at the combine, that doesn’t happen very often. He plays to his size and he plays to his speed as well, he’s very difficult to bring down in the open field and when he’s got a full head of steam, you should probably get out of the way. Here’s a play against West Virginia where he showcased that power, an ability to force missed tackles and a little of that 4.39 speed.
Open field Agility
I couldn’t decide which clip to use for this one as there are so many, but Hall’s open field agility and balance are exceptional. They allow him to change direction quickly, keep defensive backs off guard and accelerate laterally. He’s a nightmare to defend.
Breeze has soft hands in the passing game and his 90%+ catch rate in 2021 is testament to this, he can leak out the backfield or get involved on designed runs. He focuses first on catching and then on making things happen, and good things usually happen after he catches the ball.
Thanks for reading The Jets Way! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.