Making Cardinals roster tall task for Max Hall - East Valley Tribune: Sports

Making Cardinals roster tall task for Max Hall

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Posted: Saturday, July 3, 2010 4:30 am | Updated: 12:44 am, Thu Jul 8, 2010.

In the early 2000s, quarterback Max Hall helped lead Mountain View to one state championship and another title-game appearance.

In the seven years since, he's been buried on the depth chart at Arizona State, on a religious mission in Des Moines, Iowa, and, for the last four years, navigating a distinguished career at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah.

But as he returns to Arizona and attempts to make the Cardinals as an undrafted free agent, Hall's frame still more closely resembles a high schooler than an NFL star.

At 6-foot-1 and 201 pounds, he isn't a shrimp, but by NFL quarterback standards, Hall doesn't measure up.

It's easy to pick him out of a lineup involving fellow Arizona signal-callers Matt Leinart (6-foot-5), Derek Anderson (6-6) and John Skelton (6-5).

It's also one of the main reasons he wasn't chosen in April's NFL draft. Hall finished his career at BYU as the school's all-time winningest quarterback, passing Ty Detmer, but it didn't help get his name called.

In fact, of the 14 quarterbacks taken, only one - Texas' Colt McCoy - is shorter than 6-2.

"It's just the way the NFL is right now," said BYU quarterbacks coach Brandon Doman, himself a 6-1 quarterback who lasted three seasons in the NFL.

Not that it bothers Hall.

"People look at my size, but there have been some successful 6-1 quarterbacks in the league," Hall said. "Drew Brees. I think Kurt (Warner) is 6-2 or 6-3. There have been some shorter quarterbacks that have had success. Bottom line, if you can play - if you can make the throws and make the reads - it doesn't matter what size you are."

Hall has always believed in himself. The grandson of Wilford ‘Whizzer' White and nephew of Danny White, both local quarterback legends, Hall had the pedigree and drive for stardom from the beginning.

Tom Joseph was hired to be Mountain View's football coach when Hall was a junior. While his young quarterback might not have passed the initial eyeball test, it took Joseph less than a week of practice to realize what he had.

"You've got quarterbacks that are OK, quarterbacks that are good, and then those quarterbacks that are great," Joseph said. "The leadership, the confidence, the way they motivate their teammates. Either you've got it or you don't."

In high school and college, Hall had it.

At Mountain View, he set a school record for all-purpose yards and was the Tribune's Offensive Player of the Year two years in a row.

 

He initially chose Arizona State for college, but with Sam Keller and Rudy Carpenter crowding the depth chart, Hall returned from his missionary work in 2006 and transferred to BYU.

Hall led the Cougars to a 32-7 record in three years at the helm, throwing for more than 3,500 yards in each season.

Doman said another knock on short quarterbacks is their durability, but Hall never missed a start in high school or college. He is currently the fourth-lightest quarterback on an NFL roster, listed at 201 pounds.

"The one thing that guy has is grit," Doman said. "He reminds me so much of Brett Favre, how tough he was. He just kept on ticking. He wasn't going to miss a practice or a game. I think the Cardinals are in a really fortunate position with this young man. I think they're going to fall in love with that guy."

Hall expected to get drafted, but once teams continued to pass on him, the Mesa native received a call from Arizona in the middle of the seventh round.

"They said, ‘Hey, if you don't get picked up, we'd really like you,'" Hall said. "When I didn't (get drafted), it was kind of a no-brainer for me to come home and become part of the Cardinals organization. I've always wanted to be here."

It won't be easy for Hall to make the active roster. He's fourth on the depth chart, and NFL teams usually carry three quarterbacks. But time on the practice squad seems to be his destiny.

"He's always had to battle against bigger, stronger guys," Doman said. "He has a chip on his shoulder. He knows people question whether he can do it or not. That motivates him quite a bit."

Said Hall: "That's what makes you better: the competition. I enjoy it."

Leinart and Anderson have both been starters in the NFL, and seemingly, would be players that Hall should emulate.

But Doman believes the opposite is true. Hall isn't 6-6 with a cannon arm, and he can't try to be that player.

"He's got to be him," Doman said. "If he tries to be Leinart, Anderson, he'll fail. If he lets anyone else wear off on him, it's going to hurt him. It's a hard thing to do because you are an undrafted free agent rookie; you're not the face of the team.

"But he can't try to please anybody. Max certainly wanted to please us, but Max was more about our team winning and doing whatever it took to win. Sometimes the way he would go about it, I would say, ‘What in the world are you doing?' But he's an intuitive and instinctful guy."

Hall's fiery and do-it-my-way nature led to a few instances of butting heads with Joseph while he was at Mountain View. His notorious ‘I hate Utah' rant while at BYU made headlines.

But that edge is also what has gotten him this far.

"He's not cocky, but he's got good confidence," Joseph said. "That's why he's been successful at the other two levels, and that's how he can be successful (in the NFL), too. There's a lot more to it than just the height thing.

"Sometimes you've got to take the guy you want to go in the dark alley with."

 

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