Varsity Football

‘The game has slowed down’: Wichita’s Breece Hall taking over Iowa State as a freshman

Iowa State running back Breece Hall escapes the tackle of West Virginia defenders during an Oct. 12 game. He’s a former star at Wichita Northwest.
Iowa State running back Breece Hall escapes the tackle of West Virginia defenders during an Oct. 12 game. He’s a former star at Wichita Northwest. AP

Against TCU, Breece Hall had one carry for two yards.

A week later, he had 27 touches for 137. And Saturday against Texas Tech on the road, the freshman running back had 22 touches for 256 scrimmage yards and two touchdowns as the Cyclones beat the Red Raiders 34-24 to improve to 5-2 (3-1 in the Big 12).

Hall’s productivity in Lubbock, Texas, earned him Big 12 Newcomer of the Week honors for the second straight week — not to mention some lofty praise from Iowa State coach Matt Campbell, who said Hall has an opportunity to be special.

His high school coach, Steve Martin of Wichita Northwest, no doubt agrees. Martin has noticed from afar how Hall has stood out among the Cyclones’ stable of running backs.

“I don’t know if you expect him coming in like that and having two games back-to-back,” Martin said. “He’s starting to look real comfortable. It looks like the game has slowed down (for him).”

Nine Iowa State players have recorded carries for the Cyclones this season. In ISU’s season opener against Northern Iowa, Hall was one of three running backs to earn at least 10 carries.

Hall, who is listed at 6-feet, 215 pounds, wasn’t perfect in Week 1. He had 47 yards on 11 carries without a touchdown. And he definitely wasn’t great the following week. He had just one carry for no yards.

Hall was unable to speak for this story — Campbell’s team policy prohibits freshmen from talking with reporters — but in his time at Wichita Northwest, one thing became clear about his career:

He relies on rhythm.

“The one thing Breece does have is he’s got natural running back vision,” Campbell told the Iowa City Gazette. “All I mean by that is Breece was a tailback coming in. He played tailback in a very similar offense of what we run here at Iowa State.”

As a senior with the Grizzlies, Hall had five games of at least 200 yards rushing. He had fewer than 20 carries in only one.

Hall finished his career at Northwest with 4,209 yards on 421 carries. He averaged more than 168 yards every night he played. He scored 74 times while the Grizzlies were making deep runs into the Kansas high school postseason, including a runner-up finish last year.

After the state championship game and the fall semester in Wichita, Hall decided to enroll early at Iowa State. He passed on his final basketball season with the Grizzlies to get a head start on learning the Cyclones’ offense and making an impact in Ames.

It paid off, Martin said.

“There are sometimes when I just sit there and smile,” Martin said. “It seems like he’s in navy and gold again.”

Hall’s 183 rushing yards against Texas Tech was the third-highest total in school history. It came in his second game with more than a dozen carries.

Hall is replacing David Montgomery, who now plays for the Chicago Bears. Montgomery was an honorable mention freshman All-American at Iowa State.

Campbell said Hall still has a long way to go before he reaches what Montgomery offered. But he likes the fact that Hall has that kind of predecessor to emulate.

“I think the reality of it is David set such a high standard of excellence in every thing from how he practiced to how he played to certainly what he did in this community,” Campbell said. “I think that’s one positive for a guy like Breece to have somebody like that to look to that’s not so distant away from the program.

“He’s certainly unique. Sometimes it looks like he’s not running and next thing you know, he’s kicked it into a high gear. I just think he’s a good athlete. He’s a really smooth athlete.”

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Wichita Eagle preps reporter Hayden Barber brings the area updates on all high school sports while adding those hard-to-find human-interest stories on Wichita’s student-athletes.