Air Force 2nd Lt. Chad Hall took a trip from Hill Air Force Base to the University of Utah on Monday, where along with current and former Utah football players, he auditioned in front of NFL scouts at the university’s Pro Day combine.
It was a day for which the 2008 U.S. Air Force Academy graduate had been preparing for two years, sometimes working out after 12-hour days and often making the 40-minute drive to the university five or six times a week during the winter months in order to use indoor facilities there.
“It was work and then train and then sleep,” Hall said in an interview with After Action on Friday. “I had to give up my social life for a bit.”
When he got a call from the Philadelphia Eagles on Monday night, it confirmed Hall’s feeling that he’d performed well at the combine. The Eagles called him again Tuesday, and Wednesday he was on a flight to Philadelphia. Hall worked out for the Eagles again Thursday, and then was offered a three-year contract with the team to be their newest kick returner/wide receiver.
He then did an interview for the Eagles’ Web site, went to the airport and flew back to Utah.
“A little bit, you could say that,” Hall said.
There won’t be much letup for Hall after these frantic five days. He’s now in the process of getting his early release from active duty, which he’s allowed to apply for after serving 24 months of his commitment, according to official Defense Department policy. Hall is unsure how long the process will take, and for now he’s remains maintenance officer for the 421st Fighter Squadron, which is part of 388th Fighter Wing at Hill.
According to DoD policy, if a service member is granted early release from active duty, he will serve in the Reserve for double the time of his remaining active duty obligation, which would be six years for Hall. Service members granted early release are also subject to repay the cost of their educational benefits, which is prorated based on the amount of active-duty time served.
Hall said he’s received plenty of congratulations and support from his fellow airmen at Hill, but that it’s not easy to face leaving them.
“They’re excited for me. They also don’t want to lose me. It’s a tough situation,” Hall said. “I’ve been here for two years and made a lot of close friends. I’ve met a bunch of great men and women.”
‘A slam dunk‘
Hall was a versatile offensive threat at the academy, where he capped his career with a phenomenal season in 2007. That year he led Air Force in rushing with 1,478 yards (second most in school history), had 50 receptions for 524 yards and scored 24 total touchdowns en route to being named the Mountain West Conference Offensive Player of the Year. Hall also had 681 combined punt and kick return yards his senior season, and returning kicks is probably the 180-pound Hall’s best chance at making the Eagles.
Anthony Patch, the Eagles’ assistant director of college scouting, watched Hall’s performance at Utah on Monday and came away impressed with his both his overall quickness and his skills as a wide receiver.
“The shuttle times were outstanding. His short-area drills, all the footballs he caught, he did exceptionally well. He looked really good,” Patch said on PhiladelphiaEagles.com.
When Hall came to the Philadelphia on Thursday for his up-close workout, more members of the Eagles coaching and personnel staffs evaluated him. Hall made believers of them as well, and the team didn’t hesitate to offer him a contract.
“There wasn’t a reason to delay. The really good teams, I think, are on the good players quickly. There were other teams interested, but we did our due diligence and got a full vibe on the entire situation. We knew that sooner or later a team was going to take a stab on the kid, so there was absolutely no reason to wait around,” Ryan Grigson, the Eagles’ director of player personnel, said on PhiladelphiaEagles.com. “People may say, ‘Oh, this kid hasn’t played in two years’ and all of that, but we had to trust what we saw. … To me, it was a slam dunk to sign him.”
Hall follows the NFL closely and believes Philadelphia will be a good fit for his talents.
“Their offense is a spread offense, very West Coast,” Hall said. “They try to get the ball to people in open space. As a player I’m pretty versatile. There’s a lot of different positions I’ll be looking at.”