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September 12, 2011

After a turbulent couple of years, Hall comfortable with the Redskins

By: Jimmy Robertson

Photo of Hall courtesy of the Washington Redskins

The 2011 Pro Bowl panned out rather nicely for former Tech cornerback DeAngelo Hall.

In addition to the bonus his contract called for in just making the game, Hall mined some serious gold by also winning the MVP trophy and receiving a new Cadillac for his efforts, which included intercepting a pass and returning a fumble 34 yards for a touchdown in the NFC’s 55-41 victory.

“I was just about to buy another SUV,” Hall said after the game. “So to come out and grab one for free, I like that.”

After enduring some tumultuous times, Hall appears to be settled in nicely these days. He’s playing for his favorite team as a kid in the Washington Redskins, he’s making a pile of money with a deal that includes $23 million guaranteed, and he’s making big plays on the field much in the manner in which he did while earning All-America honors at Tech in 2003.

Last season, he started all 16 games for the Redskins and recorded a career-high 95 tackles (65 solo). He tied his career high with six interceptions and he recovered two fumbles, one of which he returned for a touchdown (not counting the Pro Bowl).

Of course, four of his interceptions came in one game. In a late October contest against the Chicago Bears, Hall picked off four Jay Cutler passes, returning one for a touchdown to lead the Redskins to a 17-14 victory. The four interceptions tied an NFL record, and Hall’s jersey was sent to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Overall, the season marked arguably the best of his seven-year NFL career and led to his earning that Pro Bowl spot, the third such honor for Hall.

“I just had the opportunity to make a lot of plays [last year],” Hall said in a phone interview in late August. “I’ve always thought of myself as a cornerback who could catch the ball. If the ball is coming into my area, I’m going to try and make a play on it. That’s the way I’ve always been, even going back to middle and high school.”

Things haven’t always gone so smoothly for the brash cornerback. He enjoyed four good seasons in Atlanta, which used a first-round pick in the 2004 NFL Draft to take him. He went to the Pro Bowl twice as a Falcon, but Hall’s antics occasionally got him in trouble. Also, he and Falcons coach Bobby Petrino never got along, and Falcons officials eventually traded Hall to Oakland in March of 2008.

Things only got worse from there. In a somewhat bizarre move, the Raiders cut Hall after eight games that season – this after signing him to a seven-year, $72 million contract.

“It was a frustrating experience,” Hall said. “It wasn’t difficult from a physical and mental standpoint. It was just frustrating the direction that the team was going. I thought I could change that, but change starts at the top and works its way down, and he’s [Oakland owner Al Davis] not changing.”

Hall signed with the Redskins two days after being cut by Oakland. He finished out the 2008 season with the Redskins, and after that season, Washington owner Daniel Snyder signed him to a six-year deal. He’s played well since joining the Redskins, having intercepted 12 passes in that span.

“From the first day, I felt comfortable here,” Hall said. “This is a place where I’ve always wanted to play. I tried to get drafted here coming out of Tech, and I tried to get traded here from Atlanta. I just feel comfortable playing here.

“I’d like to finish my career here. I’m signed for three more seasons, and I’ll be 30 at the end of this contract. I hope to go to the [negotiating] table one more time and finish my career as a Redskin. That’s the plan.”

Hall keeps in touch with some of his former Tech teammates, including Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick. He faces Vick twice a year now, and the two friends never back down from each other. In fact, in a game last season, Hall and Washington teammate Kareem Moore crushed Vick and broke a couple of his ribs.

“Absolutely, we joke about it all week,” Hall said of their rivalry. “You always like to go against the best. When we were in Atlanta together [with the Falcons], I couldn’t hit him. Then I got the chance to hit him and I break his ribs. I didn’t mean to do that. But I do love going up against him.

“We talk often, but not as much during the season. Sometimes, he’ll call me if he’s coming to Washington and needs tickets, or I’ll call him if we’re going to Philly and I need tickets. But after the season, we keep in touch and try to get together.”

Hall, who occasionally comes back to Blacksburg in the offseason and usually attends the spring game, came back this spring to sign up for a couple of online classes at Tech to continue to work toward his degree – he left Tech following his junior season. He and current Redskins teammate Will Montgomery make sure to keep up with the Hokies, though Hall is still a little upset with Montgomery concerning an issue that surfaced 10 years ago.

“That guy stole my state championship from me,” Hall laughed, referring to Montgomery’s Centreville High team beating Hall’s Deep Creek High team in the Group AAA championship game in 2000. “I’m still bitter about that.”

That may be the only thing he’s unhappy about these days. He’s making plays and making big money, and his team appears to be on the rise. Without a doubt, that’s a nice combination.

Here’s a list of former Tech players in the NFL as of Sept. 5:


47 Jeff King – After spending five seasons with the Carolina Panthers, King moved during the offseason, signing a three-year, $6 million contract with the Arizona Cardinals. A year ago, he started all 16 games at tight end for Carolina, catching 19 passes for 121 yards and two touchdowns.

King, who has caught 112 passes for 923 yards and nine touchdowns in his career, has started 62 games the past four seasons and figures to be the starter in Arizona.

34 Ryan Williams – The Cardinals selected Williams in the second round of April’s NFL Draft and signed him to a four-year, $5 million deal, which included a $2.14 million signing bonus. Unfortunately, the former Tech tailback will not be playing this season. On Aug. 19, he tore the patella tendon in his right knee in a preseason game against Green Bay. He underwent surgery a short time later and will miss the season.


73 Carlton Powell – Powell continues to bounce around the league, but the former fifth-round pick of the Denver Broncos in the 2008 NFL Draft ended up landing with the Falcons in mid-August. Over the course of his brief career, Powell has spent time with the Broncos, Browns, Buccaneers and Jets. He also spent some time with the Florida Tuskers of the UFL. The former Tech defensive lineman made the squad as a backup.


2 Tyrod Taylor – The 2011 ACC player of the year went in the sixth round of this past April’s NFL Draft to the Baltimore Ravens and signed a four-year, $2.145 million contract. Taylor is a backup quarterback to starter Joe Flacco. In the preseason, he passed for 408 yards, with one touchdown and three interceptions. He completed 61.7 percent of his throws.


50 James Anderson – Entering his sixth season, Anderson, a former third-round pick of the Carolina Panthers in 2006, enjoyed a breakout year at the linebacker spot with the Panthers in 2010. He recorded 130 tackles (101 solo), easily his career high, and 3.5 sacks. He also forced two fumbles and intercepted a pass.

Anderson, who started 15 of 16 games, cashed in during the offseason. He signed a five-year, $22 million deal to remain with Carolina - $8.5 million of that guaranteed.


85 Andre Smith – Smith, a former Tech tight end, went undrafted in this past April’s NFL Draft. But the 6-foot-5, 270-pounder signed a free-agent deal with the Bears, and he played well enough in the preseason to earn a spot on the Bears’ practice squad. The minimum salary is $5,700 per week ($96,900 per season).


19 Eddie Royal – Entering his fourth season with Denver, Royal will be looking to build on a solid 2010 campaign that saw him start 10 games and catch 59 passes for 627 yards and three touchdowns from his receiver spot. He also returned punts, averaging 11.9 yards per return.

Royal, who has started 37 of the 45 games he’s played in, will be playing for his third head coach since joining Denver in 2008. John Fox takes over for Josh McDaniel, who was fired during the 2010 season.


76 Duane Brown – Brown begins his fourth season as the starting left tackle for the Texans and has started every game he’s played in (44) since he joined the team as a first-round pick in 2008. Brown missed four games a year ago while serving a suspension for taking a supplement with a substance banned by the NFL.

36 Rashad Carmichael – The Texans drafted Carmichael in the fourth round of April’s NFL Draft, and Houston coaches expect him to compete for a starting job at the cornerback spot. He signed a four-year, $2.43 million contract with Houston that included a $397,088 signing bonus.


32 Darren Evans – Evans finally caught a break when the Colts’ brass elected to keep the former Tech tailback after a solid preseason. He went undrafted in this past April’s NFL Draft, but signed with his hometown Colts as a free agent and managed to stick. This preseason, he ran the ball 25 times for 96 yards and a touchdown.


24 Brandon Flowers – Flowers continues to establish himself as a top defensive back for the Kansas City Chiefs. He has started 43 of the 44 games in which has played heading into his fourth season. He finished with 65 tackles, including 56 solo ones a year ago, and he also intercepted two passes – one that he returned for a touchdown. He will again be a starter at corner for the Chiefs. He’s started 28 of the 29 games he’s played the past two seasons.


Xavier Adibi – Adibi spent his first three seasons in the NFL with the Houston Texans, the team that drafted him in the fourth round of the 2008 NFL Draft. But in early September, the Texans cut Adibi, and the former Virginia Tech backer ended up signing with Minnesota only a couple of days later.

Adibi was active on the field this preseason. He had 14 tackles, two sacks and three quarterback hits. As a reserve linebacker for the Texans last season, he played in 11 games, starting three of them. He recorded 22 tackles, including 16 solo stops, and he forced a fumble. He figures to be a backup at middle linebacker in the Vikings’ 4-3 scheme.


7 Michael Vick – Vick enjoyed a banner season a year ago, his second after missing two years while serving time for an off-the-field issue. The former Tech quarterback started 12 games and threw for 3,018 yards and 21 touchdowns, with just six interceptions. He also rushed for 676 yards and nine touchdowns, and he ultimately was named The AP’s 2010 Comeback Player of the Year.

The Eagles traded quarterback Kevin Kolb in the offseason, and Vick signed a one-year, $16 million deal back in March. Vick and the Eagles recently agreed to a five-year, $80 million extension, with $32.5 million guaranteed.

91 Darryl Tapp – Tapp played in 14 games last season in his first for the Eagles after coming over in a trade following four seasons in Seattle. The former Tech defensive end started one game and finished with 27 tackles and three sacks. Tapp, who has two years left on his contract, is competing for a starting job.


97 Jason Worilds – Worilds played in 14 games in his rookie season with the Steelers, who selected him in the second round of the 2010 NFL Draft and promptly decided to convert him into an outside linebacker in their 3-4 defensive scheme. He finished with 17 tackles (12 solo) and two sacks.

He goes into this season as a backup to two of the best outside linebackers in the NFL in James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley. He also figures to help immensely on the Steelers’ special teams.


84 Josh Morgan – Morgan, a 2008 sixth-round pick of the 49ers, continues to make a name for himself in San Francisco, having started 11 of 16 games as a receiver a year ago. He caught 44 passes for 698 yards and two touchdowns.

Morgan, who has started 27 games in his three years in San Francisco, will go into this season fighting for a starting role again.


31 Kam Chancellor – Chancellor enjoyed a fine rookie season a year ago, playing in 16 games and finishing with 23 tackles (17 solo) as the backup strong safety. The fifth-round draft pick from last year goes into this season as the starter after Lawyer Milloy and the Seahawks parted ways. He also figures to see extensive time on special teams.


35 Cody Grimm – Grimm was having a tremendous rookie season last year with the Buccaneers before a broken leg suffered while blocking on an interception return against Baltimore put him on injured reserve. Still, he started nine games and finished with 57 tackles (43 solo) from his free safety spot. He also intercepted two passes, one of which he returned for a touchdown.

Grimm, a seventh-round selection in last year’s NFL Draft, will try to keep his starting job this year, while also playing on special teams.


23 DeAngelo Hall – Hall started all 16 games at cornerback for the Redskins a year ago, and he put up impressive numbers, recording 95 tackles (65 solo) and six interceptions, one which he returned for a touchdown. He also forced two fumbles. His season led to him earning a spot in the Pro Bowl, where he was named the MVP of the game after intercepting a pass and returning a fumble for a touchdown.

This will be his ninth season in the NFL and his fourth with the Redskins. He’s in the third year of a six-year, $54 million deal with the Redskins, and he’ll be one of the starting cornerbacks for the Redskins this season.

63 Will Montgomery – Montgomery started six games for the Redskins at guard a year ago and played in 13 games overall. The former seventh-round pick of the Carolina Panthers in the 2006 NFL Draft – entering his fourth year with the Redskins and his seventh overall – is a good bet to be the starter for the Redskins at left guard this season. He has one year left on his deal and will make $640,000 this season.