COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP) When Daeshon Hall lined up as a freshman defensive end for Texas A&M in 2013, the 6-foot-6 former basketball player wasn't much of a threat, tipping the scales at just over 200 pounds.
Four years and about 60 pounds later, Hall has morphed into a star for the eighth-ranked Aggies . And his performance in their win over South Carolina on Saturday when fellow defensive end and likely first-round draft pick Myles Garrett was out with a leg injury earned Hall SEC defensive lineman of the week honors.
As the Aggies prepare to host No. 9 Tennessee in a matchup of unbeaten teams on Saturday, they'll need another big game from Hall, especially if Garrett sits out again. Coach Kevin Sumlin refused to give any information on Garrett's health on Tuesday.
Hall had two quarterback hits, six tackles, two sacks and 3 1/2 tackles for losses against the Gamecocks. His work left him with a team-leading 8 1/2 tackles for losses and his five sacks tie Garrett for the team lead.
Sumlin said the key to Hall's improvement comes down to the work he's put in to bulk up to a size appropriate for playing on the defensive line. He said Hall shouldn't have played as a freshman, but that it was a necessity because they didn't have anyone else to do it.
''Should have redshirted, but we had to play him,'' Sumlin said. ''Four years later all that experience is a big deal. Size is a big deal. Strength is a big deal. He's a developmental player. Happy he's hung in there. He's a tough guy. Last week he was fabulous.''
Hall shakes his head when asked about how difficult it was to pack on the pounds.
''I ate a crazy amount of food, but I had a high metabolism so I would start off heavy but it would burn off,'' Hall said. ''This year I'm doing a real good job of keeping and maintaining my weight.''
Hall made a big leap last season when he had a career-high seven sacks and 14 + tackles for losses, but as his weight dipped late in the season, there were again questions about his size. He's aware that people have talked about his lanky frame since he arrived in College Station, and hopes his detractors see the work he's put in to become a force for Texas A&M's defense.
''People can see that I'm serious about it,'' he said. ''I was trying to change people's mindset about things.''
Though Hall is often overshadowed by Garrett, who led the SEC with 12 1/2 sacks last season, he is a big reason why the Aggies lead the nation with 50 tackles for losses this season. But Hall deflected praise for his contribution, instead raving about the work of defensive coordinator John Chavis.
''He does a great job,'' Hall said. ''It's a pressure defense and coach Chavis always puts us in great position to make plays.''
He also shook off questions about whether it was nice not to play in the shadow of Garrett last week.
''Just try to play hard for Myles, play hard for everybody. ... If somebody goes down we feel like anybody that's behind us can play and take the spot,'' he said.