FOOTBALL: Freshman quarterback Rodney Hall ready to lead Cass Tech into the 2014 season
DETROIT – Losing a quarterback that has basically started since he first stepped foot on campus, compiling a 32-5 record along the way, and has won two state titles, would be hard on any program. That’s the resume of Detroit Cass Tech junior Jayru Campbell, but because of his legal issues, won’t be able to play his senior year right away.
But being the football juggernaut that they are, Cass Tech has that next man up motto, and has been prepping freshman quarterback Rodney Hall to be Campbell’s successor. Even if it that time did come sooner than he expected.
"Mentally I have been getting my mind right, catching the reality that I have to get ready to play this year," he said. "Physically I’ve been in the gym working out a lot, trying to get bigger, and stronger.
"I’ve also started to speak up more, and I’ve really been stepping up, and taking that leadership position."
The 6-foot-2, 195-pound southpaw won’t be completely thrown into the fire week one against Oak Park High, having replaced Campbell before in the state playoffs for two games. And while his time as the starter doesn’t even add up to a full game, Hall was able to take away a lot from his experience.
"It was a new experience for me, starting in high school," Hall said. "I learned a lot from Jayru, like how to be a leader, have a good work ethic, and how to run the plays, and play under pressure.
"I didn’t play to my best ability, but I know I can do better than those two games I played."
Hall will have some big shoes to fill this fall as the quarterback at Cass Tech, and not just because Campbell has had so much success before him. Guys like Keith Moore (2011), and Thomas Gordon (2009) before him have both had success under center in the green and white.
"It’s a lot of pressure but I feel I can handle," said Hall. "I’ve been working hard everyday, and our expectations are still to go undefeated, and win the state championship."
Luckily for Hall, he won’t have to shoulder the entire load this season, having an all-american running back in junior Mike Weber behind him, a huge offensive line, and of course, a stout defense that has been Cass Tech’s bread and butter over the years.
"That helps out a lot," he said. "It takes a lot of pressure off of me, because they make my job easier, so we’ll compliment each other."
Campbell will miss the first few games of the 2014 season, and may be able to return later in the season. The circumstances surrounding Campbell have certainly affected the entire Cass Tech program, but games still have to be played, and Hall doesn’t believe his team will be distracted in any way.
"We are going to use it as a motivation to win for him (Campbell)," Hall said. "And to ball to our maximum potential as we know he wants us to do while he’s gone."
Eventually, Hall will have the quarterback job all to himself, with two years still left to play. He hasn’t begun to hear from any colleges just yet, but it’s still very early in the process for him, as he continues to develop as a passer. But if any schools were interested in his services somewhere down the line, rivals Michigan and Ohio State would have a great shot at landing him.
"I grew up a fan of those schools," he said. "When I visited the two schools, I liked the coaching staffs and their styles of play."