BY NICK LAWLER | Ball State Sports Link
Justin Hall entered last week’s Mid-American Conference West Championship against Western Michigan needing three catches to become Ball State’s all-time leader in receptions.
He finished with 10, bringing his career total and the all-time mark to 252. Not to mention, he amassed a career-best 175 yards and two touchdowns as well, on his way to being named to the All MAC First Team.
In one of the most important games in Ball State history, Hall had his way with the Bronco defense.
Ball State head coach Mike Neu had a lot to say about his leading receiver and mentioned being particularly starstruck during Hall’s 55-yard catch to tie the Broncos at 27 in the fourth quarter.
“He became a record holder here in a big way today,” Neu said. “It was unbelievable what he did on that touchdown run when Drew (Plitt) threw him a quick flat route there on a RPO and he split the two blockers. It was good to have a front row seat to be able to see him finish that deal.”
His powerful rapport with signal-caller Drew Plitt was the deciding factor in the Cardinals huge win over the Broncos on Saturday.
After this statement performance, it is time to acknowledge Hall as the bonafide superstar he is.
Not just a star in Muncie, but as the MAC’s premier wide receiver, and one of the most versatile and dynamic receivers in the nation.
Hall currently has the most career receptions among active FBS receivers, a feat he’s achieved by also owning the longest streak of consecutive games with a catch in the FBS with 42. He sits among the nation’s best in receptions per game (12th with 7.3) and receiving yards per game (18th with 103.3).
If you project those numbers over a traditional 12 game schedule, Hall would have 88 receptions for 1240 yards, which would make him the Ball State leader in receiving yards and extend his newly acquired receptions record to 296. The numbers are truly incredible.
Hall’s impact extends beyond just catching the ball, too. He has recorded 79 rushing attempts in his career too, utilizing his speed and quickness in Wildcat formations and jet sweeps.
Not to mention his ability in the return game as well, where he is averaging over 25 yards per kick return and routinely sets his offense up with good field position. Hall is averaging 179.7 scrimmage yards per game, which certainly solidifies his title as an all-around weapon.
Despite the tremendous success on the gridiron, Hall assured everyone that he is not in it for the records.
“I’m grateful for that accomplishment, but the job [isn’t] really finished,” Hall said. “We can talk about all that, the accolades and stuff like that after we win this MAC Championship.”
Friday’s MAC Championship will be the Cardinal’s first appearance since 2008 where Ball State boasted a pristine 12-1 record heading into that game.
However, Ball State has yet to win any bowl game in their seven appearances. This week is a chance for a Cardinals team that has already beat the expectations to do something that no other squad in Ball State history has ever accomplished.
If the Cardinals are going to beat the Buffalo Bulls and the nation’s best rushing offense, they are going to need Justin Hall to be better than he ever has before.
It is the moment Hall and the rest of the senior class have been working for their entire careers.
“It’s a dream come true,” Hall said “We’ve been grinding so hard for this, it almost doesn’t seem real. I guess it hasn’t hit yet, but we really [are going to] play for a MAC Championship, and that’s what I came here to do since my freshman year.”
Hall is the biggest weapon on one of the best teams in Ball State history. As Coach Neu says, “Big things come in small packages.” #BeatTheBulls