ARLINGTON – Sam Houston State defensive lineman P.J. Hall knew he would likely hear his name called this weekend at the 2018 NFL Draft, it was just a matter of when.
That moment came for the Bearkat all-American on Friday night when the Raiders selected him in the second round and the 57h pick overall. With the selection Hall became the 20th Bearkat in program history to have his name called in the NFL Draft, and just the second chosen since Rhett Bomar was chosen in the 2009 draft. It is the highest ever draft pick for a Bearkat football player beating Josh McCown who went 81st to Arizona in 2002.
“We like his production and love his measurables,” said Raiders head coach Jon Gruden. “He is extremely powerful and the man can run. But we needed an inside pass rusher. Someone who can disrupt running plays and penetrate and this guy can do that.”
Hall has been a menace to opposing offenses around the Southland Conference and the FCS for the past four seasons and is one of just two Kats to ever earn first team all-SLC honors all four seasons with the program. He hit the field for the Bearkats in 2014 after redshirting in the 2013 season and was named the league’s freshman of the year, finishing third in voting for the Jerry Rice Award given to the top freshman in the FCS after picking up 30 TFLs and blocking five kicks.
It took him just two seasons to set a new Bearkat record for career TFLs and he just continued to add on to that as his career progressed. He finished with 86.5 TFLs for his career, an FCS record, and blocked 14 kicks in four years.
Hall also earned all-America honors each of his four years as a Bearkat by multiple publications and was the runner-up for the Buck Buchanan Award (top defensive player in FCS) in 2016. Along the way he helped lead the Kats to the FCS playoffs each year and a pair of Southland Conference titles.
At 6-1, 310 pounds, he vaulted himself up the draft boards with his pro day in March. That day in Huntsville Hall opened some eyes, lifting 225 pounds 36 times, posting a 38-inch vertical and a 9-foot-8 broad jump. Immediately draft projections for Hall started moving up.
Hall made an immediate impact on the Bearkat football team as a freshman. He played the first four games of his career with a hand in a cast and finished the year with 12 sacks.
Hall played three seasons as a defensive end for the Bearkats before bulking up and moving to defensive tackle as a senior. The numbers didn’t drop off. He tied for the team lead in tackles for a loss with 19 and was second on the team with six sacks. He also was fourth on the team with seven passes defended.