Andre Hal is holding a No. 8, and his number has just been called.
The Vanderbilt cornerback and NFL prospect is next up in the line of cover men that have struggled mightily to handle Texas A&M receiver Mike Evans. The senior, the eighth challenge of the tear for Evans, will be looking to snap the streak Saturday.
"It will be a great challenge for Andre, and I know he's really excited about it," said Vanderbilt coach James Franklin.
The challenge, as it is for every corner that takes on Evans, is size. Hal (6-foot, 186 pounds) gives up at least five inches and around 40 pounds to the 6-5, 225-pound Evans, who ranks No. 2 in the nation in receiving yards per game (146). Hal turned in an impressive performance in the season opener against a bigger receiver in Ole Miss' Donte Moncrief (6-3, 226), and is now tied with Auburn's Jonathan Mincy for the Southeastern Conference lead in pass breakups (9). He has been active near the line of scrimmage as well, leading all Vandy defensive backs in tackles for loss with 3.5.
According to Franklin, practicing against Commodores standout receiver Jordan Matthews, who is 6-foot-3 and a draft prospect himself, makes a difference for Hal on Saturdays.
"The fact that he gets to go against Jordan Matthews every single day in practice, I think helps. I do think Mike Evans ... does a great job with the throw-behinds, and the jump balls, and just making plays," Franklin said. "When things are kind of a little frantic for Manziel, he throws the ball up to Mike Evans, and Evans does a great job of making plays for them."
Evans is a third-year sophomore at Texas A&M, and is eligible to declare for the NFL draft after the season. Hal, a senior, could lend himself a favor where his draft evaluation is concerned if he is able to contain Evans.