Manhattan Kansas State has its 300-pound running back again, but that doesn't mean Joe Hall is back in the good graces of his coach and teammates.
Coach Bill Snyder said Tuesday the 6-foot-2 Hall is practicing with the team after sitting out last season for academic ineligibility.
Snyder would not say what role Hall would play on the depth chart, but said the transfer from Palomar (Calif.) Junior College still has a way to go before he is back to his 1999 form.
"It's an ongoing process for him," Snyder said. "That has to continue. He hasn't done anything to make me think that he's the starter. But he's in a position to have a chance."
Snyder said Hall would work exclusively at fullback rather than at both running positions as he did in his junior season in 1999. Snyder wouldn't say when Hall would play and became agitated during questioning.
"We will take 70 guys to USC," he said. "I'm not sure he will be with us or not. I don't want to spend 40 minutes talking about a guy that may or may not go."
Kansas State faces the University of Southern California Sept 8 in Los Angeles.
In his first season, Hall, known affectionately by fans as U-Hall, started in six games in 1999. He had 613 yards on 121 carries, including a 195-yard game against Utah State.
But for reasons that Snyder would not release, Hall played little in the final three games of the season. Snyder announced prior to the 2000 season that Hall was off the team and must improve in the classroom before being allowed back.
Hall's return was scheduled for spring, but he did not play in the spring game.
Although Snyder said Hall hasn't made him forget about his earlier actions, Snyder said he is making an effort.
"He's not finished yet," he added.
Jon McGraw, a team captain, said that Hall lost some of the player's respect last season and it takes awhile to earn that back.
"He hasn't helped the team," said McGraw. "But it's nothing that can't be rectified."
Hall's arrival hasn't knocked anyone out of a starting role, but he and true freshman Darren Sproles have at least made the race more interesting.
Sproles, a 5-foot-7, 170-pound running back from Olathe, has impressed Snyder in just two weeks of practice. The quick back has moved from fourth string to second string since two-a-day practices began on Aug. 12.