By Aaron Wilson
The Baltimore Sun
2:46 PM EDT, April 7, 2013
The text message from Ravens coach John Harbaugh hit defensive lineman Bryan Hall's phone recently and was greeted with an enthusiastic response.
Asked if he would be interested in getting a shot at inside linebacker, Hall responded immediately in the affirmative.
"Coach Harbaugh told me, 'We want to look at you at inside linebacker,' and I said, 'I'm down for it,'" Hall said in a telephone interview from Barbados, where he was participating in teammate Ramon Harewood's inaugural 'Big Mon Elite Athlete Development Camp.' "I'm a football player, first and foremost, and I love football. I'm just looking for an opportunity to progress as a football player.
"The more things you can do to help the team, the better off you are. It's a dream come true. In high school, if you had told me I'm going to play linebacker for the Baltimore Ravens, I would have said, 'That's crazy,' and now it's happening. I'm blessed."
An all-state linebacker growing up in Paducah, Ky., before becoming an All-Sun Belt Conference selection at Arkansas State -- where he recorded 125 career tackles, 27 1/2 for losses and 17 sacks -- Hall lined up at inside linebacker in a preseason game last summer against the St. Louis Rams.
Although obviously rusty and oversized for linebacker at that time, Hall didn't embarass himself.
"That was fun," said Hall, who played in five games last season and had two tackles. "That brought me back to my old days."
Now Hall, 24, is in the process of getting himself into more of a linebacker-sized frame.
Listed at 6 feet, 291 pounds last season, Hall is diligently exercising and dieting and says he's down to roughly 275 pounds.
"I keep chopping weight and working hard and preparing myself," Hall said. "One of the biggest things is special teams. Me being at this weight opens up more opportunities there. I just want to do whatever to help this team. This team is incredible."
Hall signed his one-year, $480,000 exclusive-rights free agent tender Friday.
The former practice squad member is slated to compete with players like Jameel McClain, Josh Bynes, Albert McClellan and Nigel Carr, along with whomever the Ravens bring in via the draft and free agency.
"I think I've got the instincts. I'm a football player," Hall said. "Put me in any position, and I can play. I'm a student of the game. I work hard. Whatever's in front of me, I can do. I'm excited."