Terrell Hall, Alabama teammates and their families were spread throughout a conference room inside the Crimson Tide's team hotel, collectively coping with their loss to Clemson in the national championship game.
While seated with family and close friend and trainer Sean Washington, Hall was approached by Alabama star defensive lineman Jonathan Allen, one of the seniors whose college career had just ended with that loss to Clemson.
"It's time for you to get it done now," Allen said to Hall. "It's your show."
Allen is gone. So are several other key figures from Alabama's defense that ranked first nationally last season. No problem. The Tide is armed with numerous young, former top recruits who will now step into bigger roles with the expectation that they'll help Alabama remain one of the top defenses in the nation. The 6-foot-5, 250-pound Hall is one of them, a rising sophomore whom outgoing star outside linebacker Tim Williams referred to as the Tide's "future at the outside linebacker position."
"That's a young guy that doesn't even know how good he can be," Williams said. "He's already freakishly good. That's what the scary thing about it is. ... He can do it all. He's a monster."
Making the switch
Hall didn't even start as a sophomore at St. John's College High School in Washington, D.C.
At the time, a lanky 185-pound Hall was more focused on basketball, described by Washington as a Dennis Rodman-like player whose game was built around being tough, competitive and a good rebounder.
It was through basketball that Washington, a former Rutgers defensive back, first met a 15-year old Hall.
Intrigued by Hall's frame and athleticism while watching him go through a basketball workout, Washington remembers asking Hall, "Man, do you play anything other than basketball?"
"Yeah, I play football," Hall responded.
The conversation continued later.
"Are you going to get a big-time offer playing basketball?" Washington asked. "At best, you'll probably get a mid-major. I think you should stop playing and just focus on football. With your frame, you could really be something special."
He was right.
Hall stopped playing basketball after his sophomore year. Through work with Washington, Hall got up to 225 pounds by the next football season and began emerging as a top football prospect, eventually ranking as a four-star recruit and the No. 64 overall player in last year's recruiting class according to the 247Sports Composite Rankings.
Schools like Maryland told Hall that he could be the face of their defense and that he would probably start immediately. The one-time Ohio State commitment still chose Alabama, announcing his intention to sign with the Tide on National Signing Day.
Former Alabama assistant director of player personnel Aazaar Abdul-Rahim, who is well-connected in Washington, D.C., first convinced Hall to visit Alabama's campus. Outside linebackers coach Tosh Lupoi further sold Hall and his family on the Tide.
Lupoi made it clear how much Alabama wanted Hall, even once surprising him and flying in for one of his high school award banquets.
'Your time is coming'
Hall's first college sack came late in Alabama's win over Arkansas.
Lined up at defensive end, Hall quickly got inside of Razorbacks starting right tackle Brian Wallace and sacked quarterback Austin Allen.
It showed Hall's ability. So did an acrobatic, leaping interception during practice that impressed his fellow outside linebackers and led to them telling him, "Man, you went up and got that."
Hall finished last year with 11 tackles and the sack against Arkansas, growing into a top backup behind star outside linebackers Williams and Ryan Anderson.
The season, Hall said, was spent mostly "learning behind some really talented guys like Tim and Ryan, getting my feet wet and getting ready for next year."
Alabama coaches told Hall throughout last year, "Your time is coming."
So did teammates like Allen, Anderson and Williams.
Someone posted on Twitter recently that Hall is "gonna be a problem next year for anybody that lines up opposite of him."
Anderson saw the tweet and responded, "Exactly."
Hall, who ran the 40-yard dash in 4.72 seconds last summer while also bench-pressing 405 pounds, will be part of a group competing for the starting outside linebacker jobs vacated by Anderson and Williams.
Hall called Washington less than a week after the national championship game, sharing that he had already started preparing for next season.
An intense Hall told Washington, "When I come home, we've got to get after it. I'm going ham next year. I have to start."
"He wants it badly," Washington said. "He most definitely wants it badly."
not impressed with what they say about him....i want to see it on the field.