East Xtra: Jeannette grad gets his chance to make Steelers roster

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A couple of weeks ago it got to the point where Jordan Hall was contemplating life without football.

It seemed like an appropriate time to come to grips. It was the middle of June and he wasn't on an NFL offseason roster. Training camps around 32 NFL cities were going to start in a month and he was without a home.

Then, finally, the phone rang. The Steelers wanted to sign him and they wanted him to participate in their minicamp. Hall hopped on a plane and for the next three days he suited up next to players he watched win Super Bowls when he was in elementary and middle school in Jeannette.

Next month, he will drive 20 minutes up Route 30 to Saint Vincent College to take part in the training camp practices he used to attend when he was a child.

"It's crazy I'm going to be up there, to even think about that," said Hall, a running back who played at Ohio State. "It was a dream growing up and now it's here."

After a standout high school career for the Jayhawks, Hall received a scholarship to Ohio State, but he never rushed for more than 600 yards in any of his five seasons with the Buckeyes. For the past two seasons he served as the backup to Carlos Hyde, who was drafted in the second round by the 49ers.

Hall went undrafted, but he was invited to attend Steelers rookie camp in early May. The Steelers did not immediately sign him, but they are giving him another opportunity to make an impression at training camp.

Last week was a week Hall will never forget. One day he was in Florida with his girlfriend wondering if he had a future in professional football. The next he was signing a contract with his hometown team and practicing alongside Ben Roethlisberger and Troy Polamalu, his boyhood idols.

"I don't know if it hit me yet," Hall said. "Seeing guys like Ben and Troy, guys I saw on TV, some of the best players to play here, guys who won Super Bowls here. ... It's still surreal."

Hall, who is 5 feet 9 and 200 pounds, had begun to think about the Canadian Football League or moving on to the next phase of his life without football before the Steelers called.

"All those thoughts came to mind," he said. "I didn't make any moves, but I definitely thought about it. This came at the perfect time. When I was starting to second-guess myself and try something else that's when it came.

"I was working out, communicating with my agent. You really have to stay focused during that process. You're not working. You don't have any income. You just have to keep faith and keep working out and believe your hard work will keep paying off."

Hall, who rushed for a career-high 536 yards as a senior last season, is not likely to make the Steelers' 53-man roster, but he could challenge for a spot on the practice squad.

Barring injury, Le'Veon Bell, LeGarrette Blount and third-round draft choice Dri Archer are assured of roster spots. Alvester Alexander was on the practice squad last season and will go to training camp along with Hall and a few other hopefuls.

"I'm just trying to take it step by step," Hall said. "I'm just trying to learn the playbook and take the older guys' advice. When I get my opportunity, I'll go from there."

At the very least, friends and family won't have very far to go to watch Hall play football this summer.

"My mom said they had a family get together with 30 people when they heard the news," Hall said. "They sent me pictures. Everyone is excited."

Ray Fittipaldo: rfittipaldo@post-gazette.com and Twitter rayfitt1.

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