The last time Bryce Hall stepped on a football field to play was Oct. 11, 2019 in Virginia's game against Miami. The senior cornerback sustained a season-ending ankle injury in the game, which kept him out of play until Monday night, when the Jets played the Patriots at MetLife Stadium.
"It's been a little over a year since the last time I played, so I was super excited, and I could barely sleep last night," Hall said after his NFL debut. "It was nice to get out there and get my feet wet and get some contact. It's just been a huge blessing to me being able to get back out here from the injury I had. I'm super grateful. Now I'm ready to get going and continue to grow and get better and attack the next challenge."
As a Cavalier in 2018, Hall led the nation with 24 PDs and was named All-ACC first team and All-America second team. Before sustaining the ankle injury last year, he tallied 20 tackles, 3 TFL, 1 sack and 4 PDs. The Jets selected the talented defensive back with the 158th pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. Hall (6-1, 202) returned to practice on Oct. 21 after being placed on the reserve/non-football injury list at the beginning of the season.
"The biggest thing is the mental battle," Hall, 23, said. "I'm doing rehab multiple times a day, talking to doctors, seeing what I need to do. At the end of the day, the last couple of weeks where I've been able to start practicing, it's huge in trusting in the ankle and trusting in my ability and trusting that I can still do the things I used to be able to do. It took a lot; I feel like I grew so much. I believe that I'm here for a reason. God didn't take me this far just to leave me, so I've been trusting in that and in his plan. It's helped me be able to have the confidence to come out here and play."
Hall made his NFL debut under Monday night's prime-time lights and contributed 2 solo tackles. In the eight weeks he spent as a spectator, Hall gained insight on the defense.
"We've got a really good group of guys," Hall said. "It's been fun to just learn and ask questions. We have some older guys in this group that I've been trying to learn and soak in. there's so much knowledge and so much that goes into this game, so I try to peep what the older guys are doing and I just take bits and pieces and add it to my game."