Hall paving way for NFL's leading rusher

Tennesse Titans fullback Ahmard Hall, a former sergeant in the Marine Corps, leads tailback Chris Johnson on a running play against San Francisco.

Tennesse Titans fullback Ahmard Hall, a former sergeant in the Marine Corps, leads tailback Chris Johnson on a running play against San Francisco earlier this season. (Tom Hauck / Getty Images)

No running back in the NFL has been more explosive this season than Tennessee’s Chris Johnson. He leads the NFL in rushing with 1,396 yards and is on pace for a 2,000 yard season and
a shot at Eric Dickerson’s NFL record for rushing yards in a season.

A former Marine is a one of the keys to Johnson’s success.

Titans fullback Ahmard Hall, who served four years in the Corps, is quietly earning a reputation as one of the top blocking backs in the NFL, as ESPN’s Len Pasquarelli writes. Hall, like most fullbacks, rarely carries the ball and toils in relative obscurity, but the 4th year man out of Texas has no problem with that.

“It really is a selfless position,” Hall told Pasquarelli. “The way the position is structured now, you’re kind of an extension of the offensive line, a guard who just happens to wear [a back’s uniform number]and to be lined up in the backfield. But that’s OK with me. I’m just happy to be playing.”

That’s understandable. The former sergeant was once a long shot to become a Division I college player, much less a starter in the NFL. Hall had to walk onto to Texas in 2003 after leaving the Corps. He worked his way from the scout team to the starting lineup and ended up winning a National Championship with the Longhorns in 2005.

After leaving Texas, Hall went undrafted before signing with Tennessee as a 26-year-old free agent in 2006. By 2008 Hall was a regular starter, paving the way then-rookie phenom Johnson and backup tailback Lendale White.

Colts Titans Football

Hall fights through Indianapolis Colts defenders during one of the rare times he's handled the ball this season. (AP photo)

Hall credits his time on the Corps for teaching him the discipline and selflessness to work his way to the NFL and become a successful fullback, and gives a testimonial about his time in uniform to prospective recruits on Marines.com.

“Being a Marine has helped me so much with my journey to accomplished what I’ve accomplished … it gives you the mental toughness that it takes [to be an NFL player],” Hall says.

The Corps is also appreciative of Hall as an embodiment of what a Marine can become, and on the service’s Facebook page is a link to the online ballot to vote for the Titans fullback to make this year’s Pro Bowl.

Another person who’s appreciative of Hall is the running back he blocks for.

“I give Ahmard an A-plus,” Johnson told the Tennessean last month. “He blocks hard and works hard. It was disappointing for him not to make the Pro Bowl last year. We’re trying to make that happen this year.”

Ex-college stars to play game in Iraq

A bunch of former college football stars, led by former Oklahoma coach Barry Switzer and Auburn coach Tommy Bowden, are headed to Iraq to play a flag football game with the troops.

The game will be played on a yet unamed U.S. base and feature former greats like Tommie Frazier (Nebraska), Tony Casillas (Oklahoma), Joe Washington (Oklahoma), Brian Bosworth (Oklahoma), Tee Martin (Tennesse), Garrison Hearst (Georgia), Ty Detmer (BYU), Rocket Ismail (Notre Dame) and Bruce Smith (Virginia Tech).

Some of these guy are old enough to be fathers to lots of the service members overseas. Hopefully the troops take it easy on them.

Highlights of the game will be shown during halftime of the Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 4.


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