The Iowa Hawkeyes got off to a relatively slow start to the recruiting class of 2022. The class was expected to be relatively small at 15 or so total signees, but given attrition and early departures for the NFL, the size is now expected to grow a bit.
With that growing size, the recruiting momentum too is growing. After being unable to host recruits for visits in the first week after the regular season due to the Big Ten Championship, the Hawkeye staff was quick to coordinate a big recruiting weekend at their first opportunity to finalize their class of 2022 and build some momentum in 2023 and beyond.
One of those visitors was California defensive back TJ Hall Jr. The former Washington commit visited for Iowa’s big win over then #4 Penn State during the season, but opted to come back on his own dime last weekend. Today, he announced his decision to commit and sign with the Hawkeyes.
Hall is a big time addition for the Hawkeyes. A 3-star prospect, he’s a dynamic playmaker with positional flexibility. On film, Hall shows off in the secondary, on special teams and on offense.
Hall measures in north of 6’ and reports to be 6’2” on his social media. That’s tremendous length for a cornerback, which appears to be where the Hawkeyes like him. In coverage, he uses that length, great quickness and instincts to run with receivers and make play after play on the ball.
As impressive as Hall is in coverage, perhaps what jumps off the screen most is what happens after he’s made a play on the ball. His film shows multiple interceptions returned for a touchdown, as well as multiple punt returns for touchdowns.
Iowa is not expected to try Hall on offense, but those ball skills shine through on that side of the ball as well. Hall led Fresno’s San Joaquin Memorial in receiving with 805 yards and 10 TDs on 48 receptions for an average of nearly 17 yards per catch.
Hall is a former Washington Husky commit who fully re-opened his recruitment back in late November. SB Nation’s Washington site, UW Dawg Pound, was excited about the potential of Hall as a prospect similarly noting his versatility and playmaking ability. Here’s what they had to say in a profile back in August:
Jumping into his junior tape, its obvious that Hall has a knack for finding the ball. On each of the first three plays we see Hall snag interceptions because of his ability to maintain coverage position while keeping an eye on the QB. The second play in particular is impressive because he was playing an inside-shade and forcing the outside release for the WR. By doing so, Hall had his back to the QB with no eyes on the ball until after the WR slammed on the breaks to make his cut and Hall had to flip his hips to make the play. This was a good example of relatively loose hips in transition and lightning-quick ball identification at the break.
The other two interceptions show a little more read-and-react that could translate to safety. In both cases, Hall keeps his eyes on the QB the whole time, he lets his eyes and feel for space keep him in coverage position, and when he sees the QB pull the trigger, he drives on the ball, much like a roving safety would do in deep coverage.
They go on to note some limitations to his abilities in run support, which likely dictate he stays on the outside as a corner rather than any potential move to safety. He has the frame to do both so in Iowa’s scheme, it seems he could develop in either spot, but corner certainly seems the more natural fit.
In addition to the offers from Iowa and Washington, Hall held offers from the likes of Michigan, Colorado, Oregon State, Arizona and several mid-majors. Hall becomes Iowa’s first commitment in the class of 2022 from the state of California and the first Hawkeye to hail from the Golden State since quarterback Spencer Petras committed back in the class of 2018. His commitment takes Iowa’s class total to 17.
Welcome to the Hawkeyes TJ Hall Jr.!