Editor’s note: The New York Jets selected RB Breece Hall with the No. 36 pick in the second round of the 2022 NFL Draft on April 29.
AMES, Iowa (BVM) – Breece Hall is expected to be one of the first running backs off the board at the 2022 NFL Draft after a historic three-year stint at Iowa State.
The junior back for the Cyclones amassed 1,472 yards and 20 touchdowns on 253 attempts this season earning him his second straight Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year award, only the fourth ever to win the award multiple times. He also became the first Big 12 running back since Samaje Perine in 2014 to reach 50 career touchdowns. Hall finished with 57 and is seventh all-time in the Big 12 amongst running backs.
His rise from a three-star recruit out of Wichita, Kansas to one of the best running backs in the country was a rapid one. From the moment he stepped onto campus in Ames after graduating early from Northwest High School, his coaches knew that Hall had potential.
“You kind of go from, ‘man he’s gonna be able to help us’ to ‘man he probably can play this game for a really, really long time,’” Iowa State running game coordinator Nate Scheelhaase said. “Then by the time he’s a sophomore you feel like, ‘man I don’t know if there’s one better than him in the entire country.’”
As a sophomore, Hall became the first ever Iowa State player to be a unanimous All-American while setting or tying multiple Cyclone records. He finished sixth in Heisman voting that year and was the runner-up for the Doak Walker Award to DeVonta Smith.
“He’s one of the biggest superstars in the history of Iowa State athletics,” Scheelhaase said.
Hall’s path to superstardom in Ames and soon the NFL began back in Wichita and according to Northwest Wichita football coach Steve Martin, is no surprise. In fact, Martin called it.
“It kind of made me a Nostradamus,” Martin said.
Going into his sophomore year at Northwest, Martin believed that Hall considered himself a basketball player first. His mother had played in college and his athletic ability was on full display out on the court.
However, even though he was behind some senior backs, the Grizzlies’ coaching staff could tell Hall was talented but up to that point he had mostly relied on his natural talents.
“We saw the glimpses of how good he was but really what he needed to hear was how good he could be,” Martin said.
That is why during their end of the season meeting, Martin told Hall what he thought the sophomore could one day be.
“You have a chance to be one of the backs to come out of Wichita,” Martin said.
Those words hold a lot more weight when you take into account that Barry Sanders was born and raised in Wichita and attended high school there. Along with Sanders, there are multiple Wichita running backs that have made it to the Division I and NFL level.
“I think that really opened up his eyes and then the following week in the weight room, he started getting after it,” Martin said.
As a junior, Hall rushed for 2,082 on 201 attempts and also racked up 32 touchdowns. And it was those stats that Taylor Mouser saw on MaxPreps that first got Iowa State interested in Hall.
“He found him and felt like this guy is a bonafide big time player,” Scheelhaase said.
Iowa State began to recruit him right away and were the first to offer him a scholarship. Once Scheelhaase became involved in the recruiting process, he began to build a relationship with Hall and his mother. It was that initial interest and the relationship that was built from that that landed Hall in Ames even after bigger schools began to pursue him.
“It’s really who believed in Breece first, Iowa State called me before Thanksgiving of his junior year,” Martin said. “They were the ones that took a shot on him and he was grateful for that.”
Hall used all of that as motivation and inspiration to work hard. He wanted to succeed for all the people in Wichita that believed in him and who continue to cheer on his success. He wanted to pay back Iowa State for its belief in him as well and even after the success he has had, he is still the same person that Scheelhaase met at a Northwest basketball game.
“He was easy to talk to, he was a laid back dude who was into the right stuff,” Scheelhaase said.
He has even come back to Ames to watch his teammates practice and catch up with them during the draft process. It’s a testament to the man he is. Hall has always been a guy that will talk to anyone on the team.
“I don’t know a lot of potential first-round draft picks that are going to the local high school to watch their old college teammates scrimmage on a 40-degree day,” Scheelhaase said.
As Martin would say ‘he’s someone I would trust my kids with’ and that is who Hall has always been. Add to that his dedication to bettering himself and whoever decides to draft Hall this April will likely see the same results as the last two groups that believed in the running back from Wichita.