- Jon Mahoney, ESPNHS.com
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Adam Hall preps for every football game by putting on his
headphones and listening to a personalized pre-game playlist. It's just Hall and the music as he slips into the zone and gets his mind right before kickoff.
The tracks include plenty of Lil Wayne, including his pre-game favorite "Love Me or Hate Me." Though Weezy spits some serious rhymes that fire Hall up, it's playlist staple "Heart of a Champion" by Nelly that describes what Hall is all about.
The Palo Verde senior wide receiver/safety wears his heart on his
uniform sleeve each time he steps between the lines. And his love for the game and desire to come out on top are matched only by his immense all-around talent.
Hall developed his love for football at 3 years old when his father, James, began tossing him passes. James also taught his son about effort and character on the gridiron by showing him tapes of old NFL games.
When Hall was 5, he was so nervous the night before one of his first games that he couldn't sleep, so his father put on an old San Francisco 49ers game tape showcasing Joe Montana and Jerry Rice. Watching those NFL legends took Hall's mind off his own game, and it also showed him the kind of intensity Montana and Rice played with.
After that, Hall vowed to display the same zeal for the sport whenever he played.
"Football is a passion -- it's not just a sport," Hall says.
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Actress: Megan Fox
Hall demonstrates his enthusiasm by giving his all in every phase of the game for Palo Verde. The 6-foot-5, 210-pounder primarily serves as a wide receiver, safety and kick returner, but he also lines up at running back and occasionally handled kicking off and punting in the past. Add it all up and it's no wonder Hall is rated the nation's No. 32 athlete in the Class of 2009 in the ESPNU 150.
"The iron man mentality in sports is kind of gone now that it's become more specialized," Hall's father says. "I'm thankful that Adam sees the game fully."
Hall's comprehensive football upbringing put him well ahead of his peers when he got to high school, allowing him to stand out and move up the ladder quickly. In his first game on the freshman team, Hall wowed Palo Verde varsity coach Todd Mayfield with a one-handed grab on a pass that looked like it was going to sail over his head. Mayfield later called Hall up to the varsity for the playoffs, and the freshman helped the Titans claim a Class 4A, Division II state title.
Hall became a two-way starter for Palo Verde as a sophomore, and
he's been impacting games in a number of ways ever since. With hands like Velcro as a wide receiver, a hard-hitting attitude on D and an
awe-inspiring amount of athleticism (he finished second in the triple jump at last year's state track meet), Hall is an impact player on every down.
"When he's on the field, opponents have to know where he is at all times," Mayfield says.
Last year, Hall earned Class 4A All-State honors and was named to the Tucson Citizen All-Star first team. On offense, he caught 29 passes for 630 yards and six touchdowns and rushed for 300 yards and two scores.
Defensively, he tallied 109 tackles and four interceptions, returning two for TDs. He also returned two punts for touchdowns.
In a win over Sahuaro this fall, Hall demonstrated exactly how much damage he can do in a single game. He returned a fumble 65 yards for a touchdown, brought back a kickoff 80 yards for a score, reeled in a 5-yard TD reception and added a 1-yard touchdown run.
"He just has a knack for coming up with the big play," Mayfield says. "It hasn't been one play. It's been quite a few."
Win or lose, Hall knows he can walk away from every game with his head held high because of the consistent effort he gives at every position.
If he played just one position, Hall would almost certainly be listed higher in recruit rankings because he'd be able to focus his energy and preparation on fewer plays per game. But Hall doesn't play the game for recruiters.
"That would just be something for me, but what would that do for my team?" asks Hall, who at press time was considering scholarship offers from the likes of USC, Arizona State, Arizona, UCLA and Oregon.
"Me and my teammates have been through this for four years," he adds. "They count on me to make big plays. Limiting myself by playing one side of the ball would hurt more than help."
It's the heart of a champion.
Hall's love for the game isn't only apparent on the field. This summer, he gained 10 pounds of muscle thanks to hours spent toiling in the weight room. During film sessions, he focuses more on how he can improve than on what he did well.
"He puts 100 percent into every position, whether he likes it or not," says teammate Ernesto Espinoza, a senior quarterback. "You see that and you admire it."
When he's not practicing with the Titans, Hall gives advice to local Pop Warner teams about staying level-headed and being a team player.
And if those same kids were to watch Hall play for Palo Verde, they'd witness firsthand what it means to have the heart of a champion.
Jon Mahoney covers high school sports for ESPN RISE.
9hEric D. Williams