Bound for the 2023 NFL Draft, Derick Hall stays true to his roots. This Auburn Tiger is headed towards a great future yet takes the time to visit Ruth’s Roots and help with repairs and upgrades. He stays true to his values — family and people.
- By Maurice Singleton
Derick Hall is on the verge of being a possible first-round draft pick in the 2023 NFL Draft in Kansas City, Missouri, on April 27. So why was he painting the walkway at Ruth’s Roots in Bay St. Louis last week?
“This young man is golden,” said Elise Deano, who manages Ruth’s Roots. She described how Hall has worked and volunteered at the community garden for the past five years, since he was a junior at Gulfport High School.
“He started with mowing the grass, and then he wanted to volunteer for every little project,” Deano explained. “That yellow walkway, my secretary and I initially painted that. We’re both old ladies, right? I think it took us three days to paint. It took us a long time. Well, it needed to be freshened up. Derick is always asking if there’s anything that needs to be done. I told him that the sidewalk had faded and needed to be repainted. I asked him if he had some time to repaint the walkway.
“He said, ‘Sure, Miss Elise, I'll do it.’ He calls me and tells me it’s done. ‘You’re not done,’ I said. ‘Maybe you misunderstood what I wanted you to do.’
“I came out here and I said, ‘How on earth did you get that done so fast?’ It took him maybe an hour, versus three days for two old ladies.”
Hall's contributions at Ruth’s Roots are many. He is credited with building the butterfly house, staining the deck, mowing the grass and other odd jobs that have been done over the past five years.
“It’s just the kind of person Miss Elise is,” Hall said about what motivates him to help out at Ruth’s Roots. “I come whenever she needs me. We have that line of connection. I come here to help her. And I just enjoy being home and having a good time.”
Hall’s relationship with Ruth’s Roots began when a friend of Deano suggested she respond to a student who was looking for work. Deano initially was hesitant, because she didn't believe that it would work out considering the applicant lived in Gulfport. With encouragement from her friend, she followed up with Hall, and she’s so glad that she did.
“He’s the greatest kid ever,” she asserts in her praise of Hall. “Whenever he’s home from college, he calls to see if there’s anything that needs to be done. He’s been amazing for us.”
Deano was surprised when Hall contacted her just over a week ago after he finished up at the NFL Combine. Once again, he wanted to see if there was anything she needed him to do.
“That alone tells me the kind of person he is,” said Deano. “It reinforces to me that he is different. Forget about the football. If he couldn't play football at all, he is an amazing, amazing young man.”
It’s clear there is indeed a special bond between Hall and Deano, and you can't help but wonder how the connection can continue with professional football on the horizon for Hall. However, the answer to that question seems to appear in Hall’s commitment to his alma mater, Auburn University.
“The place. The people. I’m big on family,” Hall explained. “A lot of institutions speak on family, but Auburn is really that. To go into the city and be greeted and loved by everyone, and the education piece. They’re one of the premier colleges in the country.
“My time at Auburn was special. I am graduating in May with a degree in Supply Chain Management,” Hall added. “It’s a place I hold near and dear to my heart. I have a home there. I will always be able to go back there. That place is really special.
“Every time I go there I take it all in,” said Hall. “I’m looking at it from a different perspective. I’m not a student anymore; I’m an alumni.”
Hall chose Auburn over a list of offers from universities across the country, including other Southeastern Conference schools. He played defensive end and outside linebacker. He was named First Team All-SEC this past season and Second Team All-SEC after his junior season. He was also a team captain as a senior.
Former Gulfport High School athletic director Prince Jones said that he is not surprised by Hall’s success to date, and he has high expectations of him on the professional level.
“He’s a talented kid,” said Jones. “When you’ve got size, speed and athletic ability, you’ve got all the traits to be successful. This kid was a three-sport athlete in high school. He excelled in football, basketball, and track.”
Jones was aware of Hall’s speed in high school, but he was a little surprised that he was able to maintain good speed after increasing his weight by 30-plus pounds from high school to college.
“I watched five or six of his games on television, whenever they were on,” said Jones. “He was impressive. I wasn’t surprised because I knew he had it in him.”
Hall passed on basketball and track during his final year of high school, and he enrolled at Auburn during the second semester of his senior year.
Hall’s playing weight in high school was around 220 pounds. At the NFL Combine during the last week of February, he weighed in at 254 pounds, and measured 6’3” in height. What caught the eyes of the coaches at the combine was his speed, as he clocked an astounding 4.55 seconds in the 40-yard dash, a blazing performance for a player of his size.
Between now and April 27, Hall plans to continue working out as well as checking with Deano to see how he might help out at Ruth’s Roots.
“It’s a very long pre-draft process,” Hall explained. “Picking out an agent, going to the Senior Bowl. Then training for eight weeks down in Gulf Breeze, preparing for the Combine and being there for a whole week.
“Right now, I’m taking it one day at a time. It’s a lot of stress. It’s a long journey, but I’m grateful to have it. I have pro day on March 21st, and after that it’s a waiting game.”
Hall did give Deano a clue about his future regarding coming back to check on Ruth’s Roots once he is an active NFL player: “I'm not going to change, Miss Elise,” he told her when she was surprised by his call to come back and help after the NFL Combines.
An ESPN analyst has projected Hall as the thirty-first pick in the 2023 Draft, going to the Kansas City Chiefs.
Enjoy this feature?