Rannell Hall makes fast impression on Bucs Greg Auman, Times Staff Writer Tuesday, August 11, 2015Rannell Hall went undrafted out of UCF, going his senior year without a single touchdown catch despite 49 receptions. [SCOTTY SCHENCK | TimesTAMPA — The nickname was given to Rannell Hall at age 6, in Optimist Club football in Miami, when his coach saw him track down another player. Ever since, he has been "Speedy."They called him that in high school, and for four years at UCF. But it means a little more when it comes from an NFL head coach and he's just an undrafted rookie, trying to make a name for himself."Whenever you get a nickname and you are a free agent coming in, that's a pretty good thing," said Bucs coach Lovie Smith, impressed in the first week of training camp. "We have noticed him, not just today. Every day seems like he's doing something — catching the ball. The more things you do, of course, it helps you. We've also seen him back as a returner, catching punts. We have noticed him."Hall went undrafted out of UCF, going his senior year without a single touchdown catch despite 49 receptions, while fellow receiver Breshad Perriman, who had nine, went in the first round to the Ravens at No. 26. In 2012-13, when Blake Bortles was the Knights' quarterback, Hall led the team in receiving yards both years, including 886 with five touchdowns in 2013.Hall isn't lacking for confidence, choosing to sign with a team that drafted two receivers in the later rounds. With veteran Louis Murphy sidelined by an ankle injury, he's part of a rookie class that has taken advantage of its reps."It's very important to take advantage of opportunities," Hall said. "I've been feeling really comfortable, coming from playing under George O'Leary at UCF, very tough coach, very disciplined. Lovie Smith is a great coach, great discipline, so it was easy to adjust and get comfortable."Hall has more than just speed, with good size at 6 feet 1 and 200 pounds, and he is physical enough that he was ejected from a game last year for a downfield block he threw against Bethune-Cookman. He has played well in the Tampa area, with a touchdown on a run at USF last year and seven catches for 78 yards in UCF's loss to N.C. State in the Beef O'Brady's Bowl in St. Petersburg."I thought a lot of teams missed the boat on him, not drafting him," O'Leary said. "It's not surprising for me to see he's having a good camp. He's a versatile athlete, can help you in a lot of ways. He has a great passion for the game, and that's what shows up in practice. He thoroughly enjoys the game of football, and his athletic talent will be shown on the field."On Saturday, he'll have his first chance to separate himself in real game action as the Bucs open the preseason at the Vikings."I just think he has an unsatisfied hunger for the game, and a passion to play football that's hard to match," Bucs receivers coach Andrew Hayes-Stoker said. "I've been really impressed by his approach to the game and physically what he's done on the field, too."The Bucs have also been impressed by two other undrafted rookie receivers in Adam Humphries and Donteea Dye, and the receiver group has been strong enough in the first week that the Bucs, who may have carried only five on the opening roster, may consider keeping a sixth, such as Hall."Receiver-wise is probably the one group that can make you wonder a little bit more," Smith said. "All of our receivers, there have been days when we come in as a staff and talk about all of them. Now, what separates them? What's the difference between them? What do you do on special teams? We like the progress of all our receivers."Hall grew up in Miami, not a Dolphins fan but a Bucs fan, watching Keyshawn Johnson and Tampa Bay on TV with his mother, Stephanie, whose name he has tattooed across his chest. He had talked to the Bucs as early as the Senior Bowl in January, and that history helped him choose to sign with Tampa Bay."I'm a big Bucs fan," he said. "We built that relationship, so I felt like my heart belonged here."
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