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HBCU Football

QB Amir Hall drives Bowie State into the Division II playoffs

With 45 TDs this year, his modest high school stats are now a distant memory

“Everything happens for a reason” is the standard, go-to answer athletes give in the face of disappointment.

After two years playing quarterback at Riverdale Baptist High School in Upper Marlboro, Maryland, Amir Hall’s stats weren’t gaudy enough to warrant interest from the nation’s top Division I schools. “When I initially didn’t get those calls, I kinda was disappointed, at least a little bit,” admits Hall, whose high school stat line amounted to 15 games, 1,676 yards, 25 touchdowns and eight interceptions.

“But I figured God had a plan for me, and everything happens for a reason. As you can see, I’m having a great season — two great seasons, actually — and everything’s sorta worked out.”

Bowie State University is all too happy to have Hall, who accounted for 45 touchdowns this year — 39 with his arm, six with his legs — for the 9-1 Bulldogs. Thanks largely to the Bowie native, the Bulldogs are one of two schools in the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) among the 28 to earn NCAA Division II playoff berths. The other school, Virginia State, will host the University of West Georgia, while Bowie State welcomes Delta State to Bulldog Stadium.

That initial disappointment is a distant memory for Hall, the reigning CIAA Offensive Player of the Year. All that matters now is Saturday, and extending what has been an epic season. The Undefeated caught up with Hall, who shared some candid thoughts about what, and who, drives him to succeed.

How do you feel heading into Saturday’s matchup with Delta State, which finished its season at 8-3 in the Gulf South Conference?

I’m feeling pretty confident. We had a bye week last week and we were able to iron out some errors from the previous game. After we watched the selection show, we’ve been pretty much locked in. I feel confident in our team. The type of defense they run, we can attack them. As long as we execute at a high level and not turn the ball over, we’ll be fine. We have the home crowd behind us, so we’ll be good.

Coming off of a strong 2016 season, were you surprised that you’ve continued your upward trajectory?

I’m not really surprised. I’ve been preparing all summer, watching a lot of film and putting in a lot of overtime. I don’t want to say it came easy, but I just feel comfortable out there. It’s my second year in the system, so with all the preparation I kind of knew I would have this type of season.

What growth did you want to make after last season?

I wanted to minimize mistakes. Last year I had 15 interceptions, and I wanted to get better there. I wanted to get better at breaking down defenses and making smarter decisions and eliminating bonehead mistakes and turnovers.

You know the CIAA conference is rich in sports history, but your stories don’t get a ton of national exposure. What would you tell the nation about your conference and its student-athletes?

That there’s a lot of opportunities in this conference. We have a lot of great players here. The nation might not talk about us as much because we’re an HBCU [historically black college and university], but we’re here. We just need to be seen on a regular basis.

Does the lack of recognition put a chip on your shoulder?

I have an individual chip on my shoulder because I want to get better every day, and just trying to become a better leader, on and off the field. That’s the only chip I have.

Who are your biggest inspirations?

LeBron James would be my biggest inspiration due to the criticism that has come his way, even before he won the championships. LeBron is a great person, on and off the court. From a personal point of view, I’d have to say my father [Alex]; he’s put in a lot of work to put me in this position. Both of my parents have. I aspire to be like my dad when I get older. He’s put our family in a great position. I have a brother [Alex, 30], and a sister [Ahjah, 25], who both went to college and who didn’t have to pay nothin’ out of their pockets, so he’s put us in a great position and instilled the foundation in us so we can get things done.

Mark W. Wright is a Charlotte-based sports journalist and documentarian.