When Worth County’s Marlin Hall isn’t shedding blockers and making tackles on the football field — or blasting home runs on the baseball diamond — he’s working hard on his 3.5 GPA and even volunteers his time teaching kids at the Worth County Rec Center. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Getting to know Marlin Hall:
The Dynamite “Half-Dozen” Q&A
Here are a half-dozen questions for our Dynamite Dozen players about their likes off the football field:
Q: What’s your favorite food?
A: “Fish, tilapia.”
Q: What’s your favorite movie?
A: “The Avengers, because of all the super heroes.’’
Q: Who is your favorite entertainer (movie star, comedian, singer etc)?
A: Chris Tucker, he’s hilarious.”
Q: Who is your favorite NFL player?
A: ”Cam Newton.”
Q: If you were stranded on an island, who would you want to be with you?
A: (Singer/actress) “Alicia Keys.”
Q: Who is the person you owe everything to?
A: “My parents. They led me in the right direction.”
SYLVESTER --- The kids at the Worth County Recreational Center don’t call him coach. They don’t have a nickname or even a title for Marlin Hall.
They just call him Marlin.
And that suits Hall just fine.
“I don’t want them to call me coach,’’ said Hall, a senior safety and linebacker at Worth County High School who stops by the rec center a couple of times a week to help coach 7- and 8-year-olds just learning to play the game.
To appreciate the irony, you would have to see Hall attack the football. He’s a player who gives back to the rec kids on Saturday afternoon after taking away everything he can on Friday night.
“He’s about the hardest hitter I’ve ever seen,’’ said Worth County senior defensive back Lavonte Robinson, who has known Hall for years. “You could tell he was special when we were in the rec league at 7 years old. When he was 7, I thought he would be awesome. He just had those hands. You could throw the ball anywhere and he would catch it.’’
Hall grew up to love the game, especially the physical part of it.
“He hits hard-hard,’’ said Robinson, looking for a way to describe Hall’s demeanor on the field.
Hall, however, is a polar opposite of himself the minute he puts on his helmet.
Ask the kids or teachers at Worth County and they’ll tell you. Hall is so quiet, so reserved — just a laid-back kid who shuffles from classroom to classroom, quietly stacking up a 3.5 GPA and never talking about his prowess in the classroom or on the field.
Then the Friday Night Lights go on, and Hall illuminates.
“I’m a different person when I walk onto the field,’’ he said at Tuesday’s practice, where the Rams were getting ready for a big Thursday night showdown at Hugh Mills with Albany High. “I get in a zone. I don’t talk much and am pretty laid back. But when I play football, my adrenaline gets going and takes over.”
“I like to hit people,’’ he added with a smile. “It’s just the adrenaline gets going, and I like to be physical.’’
Hall, who is also one of Worth’s star baseball players, roams center field with the best of them and has made some spectacular catches in his career. They still talk about the time he went from right-center field to left-center to make a diving catch against Dougherty, and Hall admits: “People (still) didn’t believe I made the catch.’’
But it’s clear he loves the gridiron more than the diamond. He would rather make a big hit in football than get the big hit in baseball.
“I would rather knock someone out than knock the ball out of the park,’’ Hall said.
He’s been knocking running backs down forever.
“It’s rare,’’ Worth County football coach Scotty Ward said about having a player of Hall’s caliber during practice Tuesday. “He is a four-year starter, and he has made the all-region team three years in a row. You don’t see a lot of them like that. It’s pretty rare.’’
Hall arrived with a physical presence.
“He was a defensive end in middle school and we moved him to safety. He took to it like a duck takes to water,’’ Ward said. “He did a real good job as a freshman, especially in the Crisp County game. He made about nine tackles in that game.’’
And he made one play they still talk about in Sylvester.
“He made a play in the game,’’ Ward said. “They were running (a sweep) and the running back broke out to the right side, and Marlin came from his safety position across the field and just laid the lumber to him. The (tailback) fumbled the ball and we got it and turned the game around. That set the tone for that game and set the tone for how he was always going to be. He’s been that player for us.’’
At 6-foot-2 and 190 pounds, Hall is a prototypical safety and several schools, including Western Kentucky, Kent State, Georgia Southern, Jacksonville State and Wofford, have shown interest in Hall, who has had seven career interceptions, including three last year. He had one interception this season before Ward moved him from safety to outside linebacker.
Hall said the interceptions were nice, but that, “They quit throwing the ball in my direction after my freshman year.’’
That’s the biggest compliment to any defensive back. But when the team needed the sacrifice, Hall made the move to outside linebacker effortlessly.
“He had nine tackles and two assists in last Friday’s game,’’ Ward said. “We just had to make the move. We had to get our best players on the field, and we needed to move him there. At his size and frame, he could add some weight and play outside linebacker in college.’’
Hall said he made the move to help the team. It’s the same reason he helps coach 7-year-olds.
“I want to help them be the best players they can be,’’ Hall said. “They look up to me. I want them to grow up and (play at Worth County High) and be like us.’’
Few, however, are like Hall.
“He does what he needs to do on and off the field,’’ said John Buchanan, a senior linebacker who just calls Hall by his number — 8. “He’s great on the field and in the community. He’s a leader for us. He gets all of us pumped up. He motivates, and we look up to him. You know when 8 is talking, it’s time to listen.’’
Buchanan said you can feel Hall’s presence on the field.
“You can rely on him,’’ he said. “You always know he’s there to back you up.’’
Hall is the face of this year’s team and an easy choice as a Herald Dynamite Dozen player, and he’s having a monster season for a Worth team that is undersized but still playing tough. The Rams are 2-2 in the Region 1-AAAA race and are in the playoff hunt. Tonight’s game against Albany is big in shaping the rest of the picture.
And Hall usually shows up big in big games.
He always has. Hall is one of those players who loved the game even as a kid. He played his first football when he was 5 in a flag football league, and when he was 7 he started playing rec ball. His father, Curtis, who was a star safety at Mitchell-Baker, was his coach.
“He taught me everything about football,’’ Marlin said. “I even wore my father’s number, No. 40, when I played rec ball. I changed it to No. 8 when I got to high school. I just wanted a lower number.’’
He has made a name for himself wearing No. 8.
“He’s something of everything,’’ Robinson said. “It’s hard to explain. He’s just something else. I can’t describe it.’’
Hakeem Slade, a senior defensive back, sums up Hall quickly.
“He’s a natural,’’ Slade said.
Ward puts it this way: “He’s smart and he really knows how to play. It’s like having another coach on the field. He’s always around the football. If I had to say one thing about him, I’d say, ‘Marlin is a football player.’
“He does the little things, and most of the time he’s in the right spot. He means so much to this team. He’s been our guy, our leader. He’s just Marlin.’’
Just ask the kids at the rec center.