New position, New opportunity for Hall
PLANT CITY, Fla. -- Rannell “Speedy” Hall was a track star growing up. He holds the national record in the 200-meter dash and the 4x100-meter relay for boys’ group ages 9-10.
But his first love is football.
At the impressionable age of five, Hall fell in love with the game and soon started playing with his two older brothers.
“I looked up to my middle brother, Anthony, the most,” said Hall. “That’s who I got my toughness from. Anytime I would battle against him in practice when we were little, he was always stronger or more physical than me. He would lower his level for me, and it built my confidence.”
Miami born and raised; Hall was a standout at the University of Central Florida after graduating Miami Carol City High School.
What little he contributed at the wide receiver position as a freshman Knight, Hall certainly made up for on special teams. In 12 games, he returned 23 kicks for 714 yards, which earned him a spot on the All-Conference USA First Team. He was the league’s lone freshman to secure this designation.
Hall led the team in receiving two consecutive seasons, including 2013, when he enjoyed his most productive season with 57 receptions into 886 yards and five TDs. That same season, he was presented with the Biletnikoff Award (team’s most outstanding receiver) and was a member of the American Athletic Conference All-Academic Team.
He finished his UCF career with 2,051 yards and nine touchdowns, 264 yards and two scores on the ground, and 2,083 return yards on 82 attempts.
Coming out of UCF, Hall played in the Senior Bowl and was invited to the NFL combine where he ran a 4.60-second 40-yard dash and was the top performer among wide receivers in the vertical jump (41 inches) and broad jump (132 inches).
In 2015, he started his professional football journey as an undrafted free agent with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Later that year, he signed with the Cleveland Browns, where he spent parts of two seasons on the practice squad and was activated for one game.
Following a 2018 stint on the Atlanta Falcons practice squad, Hall signed with the Alliance of American Football’s Orlando Apollos. Under head coach Steve Spurrier, he played in eight games catching a touchdown pass on 258 receiving yards. After the league folded, he spent a brief time with the CFL’s Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
At 27, Hall’s professional football journey continues with the XFL.
Hall was a seventh-round selection by the Tampa Bay Vipers in the open phase of the draft. “It’s always a blessing just to be able to play football at a professional level,” said Hall. “It was an exciting feeling to get that call, especially from a team representing my home state of Florida.”
However, he wasn’t long for the wide receiver role.
Prior to offseason, Hall expressed interest in switching from WR to CB to head coach Marc Trestman. It took some time, but Trestman did come through.
Hall spent minicamp at his natural position until he officially made the transition to DB once training camp got underway. He drew from the parallels of the two positions and felt he had an advantage having played WR. “One of the biggest things I carried over from being a receiver to defense is my reaction to the ball; that’s one of my best attributes right now,” said Hall.
"We moved him over to defense because he did all the right things on offense," Trestman said at training camp. "He set the tone with the type of character we want our players to have. We're excited for him."
Vipers DC, Jerry Glanville, didn’t initially share in that excitement. The coordinator had reservations since Hall had never played DB, but it subsided with quick progression. “Now I’m at the point where I can’t wait to get him in the game; he’s changed that much,” Glanville said. “What’s inside of him is beyond belief. Big heart. Great mind. Physical.”
Hall knows he’s in the presence of defensive greatness with Glanville around. “He has so much knowledge of the game, and for him to be able to share that with me, I’m thankful for it,” Hall said. Not everyone gets to be coached by someone who is a football legend. It’s something that I treasure.”
Something else that Hall treasures is his UCF days, which he’s able to relive thanks to some familiar faces surrounding him on the Vipers. Linebacker Terrance Plummer was Hall’s roommate through all four years, and that’s where he also became friends with center/ guard Jordan McCray.
“We all have that bond here, not only in college. We have a friendship that can’t be broken.”