GULFPORT, Miss. (WLOX) - “Playing in the SEC is a big dream, it’s very time consuming. It takes a lot to do, but definitely playing in the SEC West with the best of the best," former Gulfport star and current Auburn Tiger Derick Hall told WLOX. "It’s close as you can get to NFL ball.”
After starring at Gulfport as the Admirals first Under Armour All-American, Derick Hall early enrolled at Auburn.
“Learning the plays was huge," he said. "With guys coming in over the summer, in spring you already learned it, so you’re basically like an older guy because you already know everything.”
The early start would serve him well when his number was called to fill-in for an injured teammate during the season. The opportunity would be Hall’s first start as a true freshman against a home state team in Ole Miss.
“Coach G walks over, he taps me. He said hey, you’re starting this game. I was in awe, because I didn’t know. I was like, ‘excuse me?" Hall recalled.
“I dropped everything instantly, tried to prepare myself to be ready with the first group. Once I got out there, they were like you’ve been here before, you’ve practiced with us. First play of the game, big tackle, stands going wild, it was fun. My first start against my home state team? I couldn’t have asked for better.”
Playing the hybrid “Buck” position (a combination of a linebacker and defensive end) , the former Admiral collected 13 tackles, playing 11 of the Tigers 13 games. Like any freshman, Hall had his fair share of mishaps, but received guidance from veteran players.
“Having Marlon (Davidson) there was very huge,” Hall said. “He would stay with me after practice, we would work on footwork and certain stuff like that. Being able to learn from guys like Marlon and Derrick Brown was huge for my freshman year. Having the opportunity to learn around them and play SEC ball was very helpful.”
Slowly but surely, Derick is adapting well to the collegiate game, putting an emphasis on technique and fundamentals as he develops. Although he’s got his hands full in the SEC, he makes sure to keep a watchful eye on his Admirals.
“Being able to watch that game the night before we played Alabama, watching it on live-stream and being able to know we made it out of the first round, I couldn’t have been happier for the guys or coach Archie for the way he’s building and developing this program," Hall told WLOX.
"It’s going to be a championship caliber program here very soon, he’s doing a great job. I miss it, I love Gulfport, and I know Gulfport will always love me back.”