Near-death experience fuels football recruit
Published: Sunday, June 23, 2013
Updated: Sunday, June 23, 2013 22:06
UCF was lucky enough to gain the commitment of three-star athlete Maurice Hall. With a blend of natural ability, speed, power and a nose for the football, Hall has garnered praise and heavy recruiting from UCF, among a litany of other major programs.
While the Knights are lucky to have a commitment from Hall, Hall is lucky to be alive. The Gibbs High School three-sport star was shot in a drive-by on Sept. 12, 2012. There seemed to be no motive to the crime and Hall proved to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
“I was just hanging out and a car rolled by and started shooting,” Hall said. “I was the only person hit. I’d never seen anything like that before. It was the most crazy situation I’ve ever been through.”
Coming up in the midtown area of St. Petersburg, Hall knows of the dangers always lurking in the peripherals.
“The area I grew up in is not the best place to be at,” Hall said. “Not that it’s all bad, but it’s not a place kids should be around with all the drug dealers and stuff. Gibbs is the best school in St. Petersburg, though, I know that, and football there helped me stay away from all of the bad influences around.”
Hall’s godmother, Sabrina Anderson, has helped him become the man he is today, and on that fateful day in September, she feared the worst.
“It was heartbreaking,” Anderson said. “It’s hard to explain when something like that happens. There’s really no words for it.”
Anderson, who has shouldered the lion’s share of responsibility for Hall through recent years, described him as a good, strong, respectful person.
“He plays football with my son, Reese, and that’s how I became his godmother,” Anderson said. “I’ve clung to him from the first moment I met him. He is just so loving and caring and respectful.”
While Hall is soft-spoken, Anderson was quick to build up the young man she considers a part of her family.
“He’s always been the respectful and polite type. I would say he’s a good kid,” Anderson said. “There really isn’t much I could say bad about him. His upbringing was hard, and so he is kind of hard. He is a fighter and a survivor, and that is why he pulled through.”
Hall isn’t looking to waste the opportunity, both for football and for life.
“I thought I was gone for a little bit there but I think Jesus gave me a second chance,” Hall said. “It’s crazy, but I feel like I got a second chance for a reason — to help my family out, because we are all struggling right now. Now, I’m going to be the first one to go to college.
“It’ll be great,” Hall said about his future. “I want something more than just graduating high school and getting a job. I’ve got to be a leader.”
He is looking to make the best of the coming years, his new lease on life and the education and training he’ll receive at UCF.
Hall believes the decision to join the Knights in 2014 is the best way to make his dreams come true, make his family proud and accomplish the goals he has set for himself.
Those goals are aimed no lower than the league.
“In four years? I see myself in the NFL, playing with a lot of great football players," Hall said.
Hall, a 6-foot-1, 186-pound athlete is projected to play defensive back for the Knights, though he has no preference and is able to play almost any skill position on the field. He has been recruited around the nation, including scholarship offers from SEC-member Kentucky and three Big 12 teams: West Virginia, Iowa State and Oklahoma. Hall cites coaches [Kirk] Callahan and [George] O’Leary as the two biggest influences in his choice.
“I really like O’Leary and Coach Callahan and it’s the place I want to go. O’Leary doesn’t sugar coat; he tells it straight,” Hall said.
To the chagrin of the big-conference schools lining up outside of Hall’s front door, texting, calling and sending letters, Hall has been looking to be a Knight the whole time.
“I really liked the place,” Hall said. “I grew up watching UCF all the time; to tell the truth, I was hoping for the offer from UCF all along. I wanted to be part of a school that was growing.”