By: Derek Gonzales
Xavier Hall is one of the 14 seniors on the New Mexico State football team that is in the midst of his final season in an Aggie uniform. The 2013 recruiting class will be the first recruiting that was brought in by head coach Doug Martin that Martin will see graduate. For Hall, this season has been kind of a full-circle experience, beginning with a win September 10 against New Mexico.
“We have been building up to this point since Coach Martin has been here. This is our turning point. If there is going to be one, it’s going to be tonight,” Hall said post-game. Hall had been 0-7 against NMSU’s two rivals, and submitted arguably his best performance of his career to help the Aggies win the game in his last chance to get a rivalry win. He carried the ball 11 times for 61 yards, including a first-down gain after NMSU turned the Lobos over on downs to clinch the win.
In Hall’s sixth career game back in 2013, the Aggies headed to Albuquerque for their annual game with the Lobos. UNM beat NMSU in one of the biggest blowout’s in the history of the rivalry, 66-17. So to have to pay four years’ worth of dues to win a rivalry, and to play in integral part in the outcome meant a lot to Hall.
“We have grown in strides, just from my freshman year here. It was so frustrating to be apart of things and seeing the way that (certain) guys played (and) prepared for the game,” the 2013 Las Cruces High graduate said. “There wasn’t a whole lot of pride. We kind of just went out there and played the game. Now, it’s different. There’s a tenacity about us. We want to do some things that we have never done here before. Guys just want it. This is a whole different feeling from my freshman year to my senior year now.
Hall was one of the top running-backs in New Mexico his senior year, rushing for 2,080 yards and 32 touchdowns under former Aggie quarterback Jim Miller at Las Cruces High, and culminated his prep career with a state championship. Even with the success, New Mexico State was his only division-one scholarship offer. It was just fitting that it came from the school that he grew up around.
“It meant a lot. My entire life I have wanted to play football. I have been wanting to play since I was five years old, and ever since that point, I knew I wanted to be a division-one athlete. I got looked at from other schools. Schools in the area, schools really far away, but New Mexico State was the only school that offered me a scholarship. It meant a lot to me because that’s all I’ve ever wanted, but to get it from my hometown school, it truly meant a lot.
Hall wasted no time making the most of his opportunity, starting the last four games of his freshman year, including a 14-carry, 95-yard performance against Boston College. As a sophomore, Hall played in ten games, rushing for 342 yards on the season with five touchdowns. The following year, Hall provided Coach Martin and the offense a reliable, experienced running back that excelled in pass protection, as well as being a great change-of-pace back for Larry Rose III.
As the Aggies are halfway through the season, Hall hopes that the Aggies can break the 56-year bowl drought, and the Aggies do still have a chance. Against Kentucky, Hall went for 94 yards on 18 carries as NMSU put 42 points on the board against an SEC defense. With four home games left, it’s starting to sink in that the days as an Aggie football player and dwindling down.
“I get a lot of support. I know people I’ve grown up with, calling my name and yelling ‘Let’s go X.’ I want to be apart of the winning program that starts it all. Once we start our own thing, everything else will fall into place,” Hall said. “To represent NMSU and the city of Las Cruces, I just want to do as best I can so we can take this program to the next step.”