Redshirt freshman Darren Hall making the most of his opportunity


Aaron Tolentino

Redshirt freshman Darren Hall looks across the field during warmups before a road game on Aug. 31 at Stanford University.

by Aaron Tolentino, Assistant Sports Editor

San Diego State football redshirt freshman cornerback Darren Hall was named the Mountain West Defensive Player of the Week on Oct. 8, the second time in three weeks he has received the honor.

Not bad for a guy who has yet to start a game for the Aztecs.

Hall did not see a single defensive snap in the first two games this season and only saw one snap against Arizona State in week three.

However, things are different now for the 6-foot, 170-pound cornerback from Pasadena who is finally getting the opportunity to show off his talents on the field.

Hall had an interception in back-to-back games against Eastern Michigan and Boise State, also leading the Aztecs with nine tackles and added a strip sack against the Broncos.

He has come off the bench as a key rotational piece in the secondary during the Aztecs’ last two victories.

Against Eastern Michigan, Hall notched an interception in overtime to set up the game-winning field goal.

Hall said his interception helped confirm that he can be a major contributor in the SDSU secondary.

“It boosted my confidence to go out there and just know that I can play at this level, because I didn’t play much last year or this year,” Hall said.

Against Boise State, Hall intercepted senior quarterback Brett Rypien on the first play he was inserted in. Rypien came into the game without having thrown a pick all season.

Defensive coordinator Zach Arnett said the team has always known Hall had talent.

“Everyone knows (Hall’s) talented,” Arnett said. “He’s got good feet in coverage. He’s really athletic and so we’ve always known he’s going to be a good player for us, good corner out there. He’s got his opportunity, now he’s made the most of it.”

The coaching staff took notice of Hall’s progression in practice, which led to him getting increased playing time.

Head coach Rocky Long said Hall plays well in coverage and the more he sees the field, the more confident he becomes.

“I think he’s a real good cover guy and he’s gaining confidence as he goes,” Long said.

Practice is a time when players who might not usually play get a chance to prove to coaches why they should be in the game.

Hall said his success in practice is what got him the chance to see the field on game days.

“Just going out there in practice and continue to make plays at practice,” Hall said. “That’s how you get notice and play in the game. Go out there in special teams, making plays, playing hard in practice.”

Many cornerbacks don’t prefer being in one-on-one coverage, but Hall embraces the challenge of having to battle directly against another receiver.

“I pride myself in coverage,” Hall said. “I’m a cover corner. I like being out there in the island, being one on one with the receiver, so I bring that to the table.”

Hall said he aspires to be like Damontae Kazee one day, the former Aztec and current Atlanta Falcons safety who also wore the number 23 at SDSU.

Kazee finished his Aztec career in 2016 as the team’s all-time leader in interceptions with 17.

“I’m trying to catch (Kazee) for his record, so that interception (at Boise) gets me on the way there,” Hall said.

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