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August 27, 2012

'Throwback' loves to hit

A couple of days ago, Bulldog offensive guard Chris Burnette was asked to come up with a word to describe fullback Merritt Hall.

"Merritt, he's a throwback player," Burnette surmised. "He loves contact, he loves to hit and honestly at a position like fullback, you kind of have to."

When told what Burnette had said, Hall simply rolled his eyes.

"A throwback, huh?" Hall said. "I don't even know what that means, I'm sure it's good coming from him."

Burnette assures that it was.

At 5-11 and 235 pounds, Hall is a former walk-on but during the spring quickly opened the eyes of teammates and coaches for his love of contact and willingness to do whatever it took to help open holes.

"You're meeting up with probably the craziest guys on the other side of the field - the middle linebackers - and he definitely does that," Burnette said. "He's not afraid of the contact. I feel like he's ready."

Bulldog offensive coaches obviously agree.

Hall was tabbed the starter heading out of the spring and held onto the role throughout the duration of preseason camp.

"I didn't know who he was till the spring, until he started blocking people," head coach Mark Richt said. "When you get your walk-ons, especially ones who come on when school starts, immediately they are in gear, they've got their helmets and they've got a jersey number that changes every week, so sometimes it's hard to get to know your walk-ons in the very beginning. I say I didn't know him, I knew who he was but I didn't notice him as a football player, a Georgia Bulldog football player, until I started to see him block people in the spring. He got my attention pretty quick."

His impression was apparently a long-lasting one.

Two weeks ago, the graduate of Wesleyan was one of five former walk-ons awarded scholarships by Richt.

"They did it in sort of a sneaky way," Hall said. "I thought I was getting something for academics, but it turned out we are all getting scholarships, so that was pretty good."

While receiving a scholarship was certainly a goal for Hall, Saturday's game against Buffalo (12:21, SEC-TV) will represent an equally important milestone - hearing his name called over stadium speaker as a Bulldog starter.

"I'm still wondering what it will be like, but I'll find out real soon," he said. "I've never been on a stage that big; it's going to be an awesome experience."

After that, Hall says he can't wait to lay that first lick on a Buffalo linebacker or defensive end.

"I like being physical, that's why I play football," he said. "I love the game and I love being out there and just blessed to be playing on this kind of level. I'm just ready to hit somebody in a different color jersey."



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