Gulfport football star Derick Hall is caught in the middle of an intrastate battle, but an SEC powerhouse appears to be close to joining the fray.
New Alabama co-defensive coordinator Pete Golding traveled to Gulfport last week to watch Hall go through a practice and was again on hand as Hall and the rest of the Admirals beat Laurel in the spring game in Hattiesburg on May 10.
“They love the way I play,” said Hall, who has been in contact with Golding for a while now.
Staff members from Mississippi State and Ole Miss also were in attendance to watch Hall during the spring game, another sign that the Magnolia State's two SEC programs are determined to land the athletic linebacker.
While Hall has a high opinion of both Ole Miss and Mississippi State, an offer from Alabama head coach Nick Saban could change the game.
“I'd be honored,” he said. “That's a big time school. It would be shocking, but truly a blessing.”
The 6-foot-5, 210-pound Hall announced his top eight schools back in March, listing Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Arkansas, Auburn, Florida State, Louisville, Vanderbilt and Tennessee.
Since he announced that group of schools, Missouri and South Carolina also have offered him.
Magnolia State battle
Hall made the trek to Mississippi State for Super Bulldog Weekend on April 20-22 and walked away impressed.
“It went very good,” he said. “It was my second time going. It was good just getting around (head coach Joe Moorhead), his staff and learning about them. It was good getting to know all the players.”
Not long after he got back from Starkville, Ole Miss defensive coordinator Wesley McGriff and defensive line coach Freddie Roach stopped by to check in on Hall in Gulfport.
“They just said they wanted to come check in and let me know that I'm still a top priority,” Hall said. “I sat with coach and talked with him for a while. He still wanted to let me know that I'm one of their top five.
“That really showed a lot by them coming down.”
Hall doesn't necessarily mind the back-and-forth battle between MSU and Ole Miss.
“It's definitely a huge thing,” he said. “(Ole Miss coach Matt Luke) is from the Coast and Coach Moorhead, they both said they want to make this state great for college football. It's an honor and a blessing. It's pretty cool.”
Hall said that coaches at both Ole Miss and Mississippi State have informed him that he's a top target for both schools.
He doesn't have a favorite at the moment, but Ole Miss was on board early with his first FBS offer in late December. Mississippi State followed close behind with its own offer in January.
After earning Sun Herald All-South Mississippi honors for his play as a member of the Gulfport basketball team, Hall plans to focus solely on football his senior year with plans to graduate in December.