If you’re former defensive lineman Michael Hall, the word ‘quit’ just isn’t in your dictionary.
In fact, just mentioning the word around him would be the equivalent of uttering a profane four-letter word.
Ever the competitor, getting Hall to give-up on something is simply a lost cause.
It’s that never-say-die mentality, combined with a non-stop motor that made Hall a fixture in the football program for four years.
Those attributes were evident from the beginning, when as a freshman in 2002, Hall saw action in seven games at linebacker, garnering some key experience on both defense and special teams.
It wasn’t until the following spring that Hall’s abilities began to skyrocket, as he was moved to the defensive line in training camp.
At 6-foot-1, 225 pounds, Hall didn’t look like your typical defensive end, but he proved to be a fast learner. Fellow defensive end Leo Wells helped mentor Hall during spring ball, making it a more natural process for him went at it in the trenches against veterans on the offensive line.
Hall’s hard work paid off as he was penciled in as the starting right defensive end by the beginning of next season. Going up against some of the best offensive lineman in Division II, Hall amassed 36 tackles and three sacks over 11 games.
Though he was able to hold his own on the field, the team simply wasn’t getting the job done, as the losses continued to pile up. The Warriors finished the 2003 season with a 3-8 overall record, and were tied for last place in the GLIAC with Ashland. The fact that Wayne State wasn’t closing out games didn’t help either, as they lost four of their games by a touchdown or less.
The dissention amongst both the players and coaches came to breaking point in the season finale, where the Warriors lost 38-21 to No.1 ranked Saginaw Valley State.
“To me, [head coach] Steve Kazor was cool and all, but at times it felt like he favored the offense more than the defense as well as certain players,” said Hall. “Being on defense, if you did a good job, he wouldn’t say anything to you. But if you messed-up, then he’ll decide he wants to be a coach and say something to you. The practices were divided at times with the players and coaches and it all exploded in everyone’s face in 2003 during the final game at Saginaw Valley, where a couple of the defensive coaches were getting into it with Kazor during the game. It was evident he didn’t have control over his team and coupled with some other things that went down in the past led to his downfall.”
At the end of the year, Kazor was fired by athletic director Rob Fournier, and former Akron offensive coordinator Paul Winters was brought in to lead a fledging program.
Winters’ coaching methods immediately clicked with Hall, giving him a renewed sense of confidence.
“Coach Winters was the complete opposite, and although his specialty was offense, he recognized and gave praise when due to everyone on the team regardless of what unit you were on.” he said. “The practices were more organized and in unison; he basically fixed and righted the ship and now he’s one of the most successful coaches at WSU. It was an honor to play for him.”
The change proved just right for Hall, as he totaled 44 tackles, three sacks and two forced fumbles in 2004. Aside from his on-field contributions, Hall’s enthusiasm and passion for the game would later catch the attention of his coaches, who selected him as the 2004 winner of the Ron Solack ‘35’ Memorial Award for team pride.
Hall was elected co-captain his senior year and had a team-high 69 tackles. Unlike before where he let his actions do the talking, Hall complimented his work ethic by having a strong voice in the locker room. One of his most important moments came right before a home game against Michigan Tech.
Winless and looking for some sort of inspiration, Hall rose to the occasion and gave his teammates a much-needed pep-talk.
“My favorite moment was beating No. 9 ranked Michigan Tech because I was coming off of an injury that sidelined me for a couple weeks and I gave the best pre-game speech of my life,” he said.
Hall’s words of encouragement captivated the Warriors, who pulled-off a 25-14 upset over the Huskies, and would later win two of their last four games.
Since his playing days, Hall has been busy putting his degree in information systems to good use over the past couple of years, working a variety of jobs within the field.
Among his notable stops in the job market have been as a material analyst and plant liaison with the Ford Motor Company and a warehouse technician with Vitel Communications.
At the moment, Hall is an equipment operator for FedEx SmartPost and hopes to move-up within the company as a supervisor once he completes their management-training program.
No matter where he ends up in the corporate world, it’s nothing but full-speed ahead for Hall.
“[My] football instincts always take over at work and I am competitive,” he said. “I want my managers to say that I have the best work ethic of anybody and I work harder than anybody else out there.
“Right now, my future plans are to become financially stable, find a job I can look forward to coming to work to do every day, and to figure out this thing called life.”