Gulfport football star explains how he made his college decision

Gulfport’s Derick Hall indicated in late September that he was leaning toward signing with Auburn, but he made the Tigers sweat it out as other schools made a late push for the speedy linebacker.

It turns out that head coach Gus Malzahn had reason to celebrate after all.

The senior linebacker chose Auburn over Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Florida and Florida State during a signing ceremony on Wednesday morning at Gulfport High School.

Shortly after announcing his commitment, Hall received a call from an elated Malzahn.

“I told him I’d give him a call, but instead he called me,” Hall said. “It was great hearing from him right after. He’s a great coach and a great person who takes care of his players.

Hall said he could hear the Auburn staff celebrating in the background during the call.

“He was just telling me congrats, it’s definitely going to be a good journey being a part of the family,” Hall said. “The coaches were fired up, all screaming and hollering. I think I’m going to do well there and my family will have a good time coming to games there”

Even though Auburn had long been one of the favorites to land Hall, he didn’t make his final decision until the last few days.

“It became Auburn really late, probably two days ago when I sat down with my family,” he said. “I was with Auburn, thinking about committing once before. I just waited it out and God just led me back to the right place.

“That’s where my heart was in the beginning.”

The 6-foot-4, 220-pound Hall made official visits to Florida on Dec. 2 and Ole Miss on Dec. 9. He also received in-home visits from several different coaches, including members of the Mississippi State staff.

“They were pushing really hard, everybody was trying,” Hall said. “I shut down my conversations with coaches on Sunday. Before Saturday night, everybody was trying to get that last input.”

“It was very stressful. Last night, I didn’t sleep at all. I tossed and turned all night. I thank God for putting me in this situation and it all worked out in the end.”

Hall made 83 tackles and four sacks this season for the Admirals.

Other Coast players who signed Division I letters of intent include:

Harrison Central senior offensive lineman Bryce Ramsey inked with Ole Miss, choosing the Rebels over offers from Florida State, Memphis and Southern Miss.

Hancock senior receiver Brooks Rayburn signed with Nicholls State. He previously had an offer from Kansas.

Gulfport senior quarterback T.Q. Newsome signed with Southern Miss and will likely play running back at USM. He also held offers from Kansas and South Alabama.

D’Iberville senior offensive lineman Louis Paul Smith also signed with Southern Miss.

Former Pascagoula defensive lineman Jaeden Ridgeway, who is now at Pearl River CC, signed with Southeastern Louisiana.

Former Gulfport defensive lineman Gi’Narious Johnson, who is now at Pearl River CC, signed with South Alabama.

Former St. Martin receiver Kalem Reddix (East Mississippi CC) signed with Louisiana-Lafayette.

Former East Central offensive lineman Conner Estes (Gulf Coast) signed with South Alabama.

Patrick Magee is a sports writer who has covered South Mississippi for much of the last two decades. From Southern Miss to high schools, he stays on top of it all.