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November 24, 2014

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high school football:

Football prospect reintroducing himself to the world with new name

Valley High tight end and defensive end Noble Hall changed his name from Eric Burrell four months ago to honor dead father

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Steve Marcus

Valley High School football player Noble Hall lifts weights with the team at school weight room Monday, April 15, 2013. Hall recently changed his name from Eric Burrell to Noble Hall (his father’s name) to honor his father who was killed before he was born.

Noble Hall

Valley High School football player Noble Hall is shown in the school weight room Monday, April 15, 2013. Hall recently changed his name from Eric Burrell to Noble Hall (his father's name) to honor his father who was killed before he was born. Launch slideshow »

Most college football recruiters haven’t heard of Noble Hall, that big Valley High School athlete destined to shine at the next level.

The kid on their minds is Eric Burrell, a 6-foot-4, 235-pound rising senior who plays tight end and defensive end for the Vikings.

Well, everything they know about Burrell can be said about Hall, as well.

They’re one and the same player.

The 16-year-old legally changed his name from Eric Burrell four months ago to honor his father who was shot and killed in Las Vegas before he was born.

He started asking his mother, Tynecha Chism, at a young age about his father and what happened the night he died in October 1995. As he grew older, he started searching for relatives on social media and was on a quest to learn about the man he never met. He was determined for his unseen father to be part of his life.

“He always has been inquisitive about it, even at a very young age of 3 and 4 years old,” Chism said. “I told him what happened. That is something that’s an open book in my house. Whenever he wanted to talk about it, we talked.”

One of those talks led to the idea of the name change. It took a few years to save money to hire a lawyer to properly file the paperwork, and in December it became official. On school transcripts and other official documents, Eric Burrell is now Noble Hall.

“That sounds pretty good to say,” he says.

There’s just one problem.

Most college coaches still know him as Burrell — he even kept the name on Facebook, which is where some coaches contact him.

Internet searches for Burrell yield multiple stories, including one by rivals.com that lists him as Nevada’s 10th overall prospect for the class of 2014. Other recruiting sites still have player pages for Burrell, and he has no plans of asking them to change.

He’s proud to be called Noble Hall — he even got the name tattooed on his shoulder — but still plays for lightly recruited Valley and doesn’t want to further complicate the recruiting process.

Hall doesn’t have any scholarship offers, but Utah, Boise State, Arizona and Northern Arizona have shown heavy interest. UNLV is looking at him, too.

Because of his rare combination of size, quickness and athleticism, he stars on Valley’s football and basketball teams.

Valley football coach Marcus Sherman is certain his top player will make an impact on the next level, which for Hall helps fulfill what has become his biggest priority: honoring the father he never met.

“It will be pretty cool wearing a jersey with our name on the back and hearing Noble Hall announced,” he said of playing in college.

While Valley surrendered more than 300 points in nine games in 2012, Hall was a one-man wrecking crew on defense, helping his college stock increase. Despite not becoming a defensive starter until a few weeks into the season, and learning the position on the fly, he finished with 48 solo tackles (seven for a loss), 16 assisted tackles and four sacks. He also forced three fumbles, recovered two fumbles and returned an interception for a touchdown.

“He has all of the skills. He has all of the grades,” Sherman said. “Now it is time for him to be a physical football player. He can be that, too. When he gets going, he can’t get stopped.”

And he doesn’t plan on stopping anytime soon.

The Valley gym is packed with retired jerseys from the school’s glory years in the 1970s and 1980s, including those worn by such notables as baseball legend Greg Maddux, UNLV great Freddie Banks and Pittsburgh Steeler Stevenson Sylvester.

Hall is putting in the work to be the next player honored.

Valley averages about 35 players for its daily spring training program, where they run stairs, lift weights and occasionally hit the field to work on offensive plays. Hall is one of the leaders, encouraging teammates to train harder and showing them by example — including racing past some while running up stadium bleachers, and minutes later, putting on a show lifting in the weight room.

“I really want to get my number retired and my name on that wall,” said Hall, who will be a three-year starter in the fall and will be counted on to make contributions on both sides of the ball. “Everybody talks about (getting on the wall); that would be a real big accomplishment.”

Click to enlarge photo

Valley High School football player Noble Hall's name is shown on a white board in coach Marcus Sherman's office at the school Monday, April 15, 2013. Hall recently changed his name from Eric Burrell to Noble Hall (his father's name) to honor his father who was killed before he was born.

He’s quick to give shout-outs to his teammates. Valley’s freshman team went 8-1 three years ago, and about a dozen of those players have progressed together, learning from the tough defeats from playing varsity at a young age and staying confident they can have a strong final season.

With Hall leading the way, they feel anything is possible. They promise they won’t be pushovers this season.

“They are ready. They have been playing varsity for three years,” Sherman said. “I know we struggled last year, but we are ready to put it together this season. ... (Noble) is going to be successful on either side of the ball; we know that.”

The recruiting process hasn’t gone as smoothly as Hall would have hoped. He expected to have a scholarship offer by this stage of the offseason. But if he’s learned anything in researching his family, it’s to be patient.

His father was buried in Alabama; he’ll eventually visit the cemetery to continue paying his respects. Until then, he’ll let his athletic performances do the talking. In basketball, he averaged six points and rebounds per game last season but was one of Valley’s best players down the stretch in helping them reach the state play-in game.

Each time he received the ball in the post, he was determined to score and didn’t back down. It’s the same attitude he’s used in honoring his father.

“It has really been awesome the last two years or so seeing him connect with everyone from his father’s side and trying to meet them and have those conversations,” Chism said. “When he’s passionate about something, he won’t be stopped. It’s the same way with football.”

Ray Brewer can be reached at 990-2662 or [email protected]. Follow Ray on Twitter at twitter.com/raybrewer21.

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