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Michigan transfer Ja’Raymond Hall breaks down decision to attend CMU

Central Michigan offensive tackle Ja'Raymond Hall poses for a portrait on March 16 at Pro Day at the Indoor Athletic Complex.

Central Michigan was one of the first programs to extend an offer to offensive tackle Ja’Raymond Hall, who attended Oak Park High School until his graduation in 2017. 

“Central Michigan always felt like family from the beginning,” Hall said. “No matter how big I got in recruiting, CMU stayed recruiting me. Some MAC schools faded away, but CMU kept recruiting me hard.” 

Instead of making a commitment to play for the Chippewas, Hall made his pledge to the University of Michigan on Dec. 5, 2015. 

Coming full circle, Hall announced his transfer to play for CMU on Dec. 30.

“It happened,” Hall said. “There was nothing bad. I have strong relationships with all the coaches and everybody up there.” 

The 6-foot-5, 285-pound offensive lineman will have three years of eligibility starting with the 2019 season. Hall started classes this past January. 

“I’m going to work on strength, getting faster and technique,” Hall said. “I’m blessed to have this year to get right and next year to be prepared.” 

Besides Michigan and CMU, Hall also had offers to play for Arizona, Bowling Green, Iowa State, Miami (Florida), Miami (Ohio), Ole Miss, Penn State, Tennessee and Western Michigan. 

Staying in the state of Michigan was not a priority for Hall, as he was checking out two out-of-state programs. However, CMU stood out the most.

“I didn’t matter where I went,” Hall said. “I was looking at Arizona heavily and they were probably my number two. I was also talking to Tennessee. I wanted to go somewhere to get a great opportunity.

“My family was at all my Michigan games to support me, so I expect them to support up here, which they will.”

Hall enrolled early at Michigan but did not see any playing time on the field during the 2017 season. Even though he left the program, Hall said he will forever be thankful for head coach Jim Harbaugh.

“My favorite coach was Coach Harbaugh,” Hall said. “He instilled so much in me during that year. I learned so much from Harbaugh.

“He said if I ever need anything to reach out.” 

Some of Hall’s closest friends at Michigan include Donovan Peoples-Jones, Ambry Thomas, Cesar Ruiz, Benjamin St-Juste, Tarik Black, Jaylen Kelly-Powell and J’Marick Woods. As Michigan players did with former quarterback transfer Shane Morris, the Wolverines plan to watch Hall shine in the Maroon and Gold. 

“They are all my best friends,” Hall said. “We all are going to meet each other at the top. It’s a different route and a different path, but we will meet. They stayed on top of me even when I decided to transfer.”

Another top prospect out of high school in the state of Michigan was Kalil Pimpleton, who attended Muskegon High School and committed to Virginia Tech. Now, the wide receiver is in Mount Pleasant as a transfer student-athlete. 

“When he found out I was transferring, we were talking about it,” Hall said. “Kalil is a funny guy and we have the same goals. We clicked instantly.” 

The most inspiring thing to Hall about CMU is head coach John Bonamego’s battle with cancer. 

Bonamego, hired as CMU’s coach in February 2015, was diagnosed with tonsil cancer on June 18, 2015, and completed his radiation treatment on August 21, 2015, at the University of Michigan Cancer Center in Ann Arbor. 

“Coach Bonamego’s story sticks out to me,” Hall said. “Just like how he was sick and still coming to practice. I knew that was someone I wanted to play for.”

Albert Karschnia, CMU’s director of player personnel, worked for two years on the football staff at Michigan and learned a ton of information on Hall during his recruitment process. 

When Hall called CMU about a transfer option, Bonamego had Karschnia check off the boxes. 

“Our player of personal director was at Michigan last spring,” Bonaemgo said. “He was there for Ja’Raymond throughout the recruitment process. That was all I needed.”