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The Rannell Hall Experiment, Vipers Switch Him From WR To DB

Rannell Hall lining up as a defensive back during Vipers training camp. (via Twitter @XFLVipers)

Rannell Hall was drafted in the seventh round of the skill position portion of the XFL draft. Hall, nicknamed Speedy, played wide receiver his entire life, from high school to college and into the pros for three seasons before landing in the XFL with a chance to start a brand new legacy.

He was a two-star recruit with only two offers, the University of Central Florida and Central Michigan. The kid from Miami Gardens, Florida decided to stay home and enroll at UCF. There he played four-years and made himself into a NFL prospect. With his best year coming as a junior where Hall posted career highs in receptions (57), yards (886), and touchdowns (5).

The former high school trackman was invited to the NFL combine where he ran a 4.60-second 40-yard dash and was the top performer among wide receivers in the vertical jump (41 inches) and broad jump (132 inches).

With his combine performance, NFL teams took note of Hall’s incredible athletic ability, but concerns were on his ability as a receiver at the next level which ultimately leads to him going undrafted in 2015.

Opportunity quickly struck for Hall as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers signed the six-foot-one-inch receiver for training camp, and he landed on the team’s practice squad. Later in the year, the Cleveland Browns signed Hall to their practice squad where he was a member for parts of three years. In 2016, while with the Browns, Hall suffered a broken fibula and did not play at all. Hall’s most recent NFL opportunity came with the Atlanta Falcons in a practice squad role.

After his stint in the NFL, Hall bounced around from the now-defunct Alliance of American Football where he played with the Orlando Apollos, played in the Canadian Football League with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, and made a stop in the National Arena League with the Massachusetts Pirates. All as a wide receiver.

Speedy was even drafted and brought in to the Vipers organization as a wide receiver. According to an article from XFL.com, Hall approached Vipers Head Coach Marc Trestman about the swap, and after a portion of the team’s minicamp, Trestman, who is also the organization’s general manager obliged.

Hall was well aware of what a potential switch in positions would mean for his viability to the team, but was confident that he could make an impact:

“I pretty much felt like it was my calling, I always knew I’ve been good on both sides of the ball.”

Rannell Hall on making the switch from wide receiver to defensive back (via XFL.com)

It would be very easy for Trestman to cut a player who abandoned the position he was drafted to play. If Hall was going to stick as a defensive back, he would have to start making plays that turned heads.

“We moved him over to defense because he did all the right things on offense. He set the tone…the type of character we want our players to have…and now he’s going to have the opportunity to make this team. We’re excited for him.

Vipers head coach Marc Trestman on Hall’s transition. (via XFL.com)

Hall did enough through training camp to prove himself as a defender and was rewarded a spot on the team’s 52-man roster. His place on the depth chart is yet to be set, but Hall possesses the intangibles to be elite.

His downfield speed partnered with a history as a wide receiver means his hands are above average for the defensive back position. Now mix that with his incredible leaping ability showcased at the combine, and Hall has the potential to be a ball hawk in the secondary.

The team opens their season on the road against the New York Guardians on February 9th at 2 PM, expect Hall and the rest of the Vipers to be fired-up when the XFL makes its return to the gridiron in 2020.

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