CHARLOTTESVILLE, OCT. 9 -- Paul Collins is a little bit country. Joe Hall is a little bit rock-and-roll. But the mix of the two Virginia linemen and longtime roommates has been more one of harmony than cacophony.
Between them, they have a post-football utopia all mapped out. After the Cavaliers complete their 1990 wonder season, the two plan on purchasing a yacht, sailing to the Caribbean and living as well-educated bartenders.
Their qualifications -- a summer spent mixing drinks and bouncing unruly patrons out of a local watering hole -- should make for adequate re'sume's, even if the desired employment is but temporary. Their only conflict, seemingly always the sole point of contention, concerns the music selection: defensive tackle Hall's urban contemporary vs. offensive tackle Collins's country.
As freshmen, they engaged in many a musical joust, with Chuck Brown and the Soul Searchers pitted against Hank Williams Jr. "He was from the city and I wasn't," Collins recalled. "We both kept wondering when we were going to get new roommates. It's hard to believe we've lived together now for five years."
Both were redshirted in 1986, Virginia's last losing season. Hall received his undergraduate degree last May, one of eight redshirt juniors at Virginia to do so, and competes this season as a graduate student. Collins fell nine hours short, and will graduate in December, not bad for a player who almost left the program after one semester.
"In '86, a lot of us almost bailed out," said Collins. "There was a lot of talk. A lot of guys were thinking 3-8, no way. We're not going through this again. We thought we had come into a program on the rise. With our class, guys were just shaking their heads and asking why? But for some reason, we all knew that it wasn't going to be like that again."
It hasn't been. Back-to-back 7-4 seasons in 1987 and 1988 were followed by a 10-3 mark last season and a 5-0 start and No. 2 national ranking going into Saturday's game here against North Carolina State. Twelve members of the recruiting class of 1986 started until last week, when guard Chris Borsari was lost for the season with a broken leg. But no duo ranks as more unlikely chums than Collins and Hall, a former all-Met at McNamara.
Both have spent the last four summers in Charlottesville. "When we go out to eat, we know all the cooks and all the locals recognize us," Collins said. "It's kind of scary when you think about it."
When casting director Bill Dance and the crew of the upcoming movie "True Colors" arrived here last spring, seeking barroom extras for a party scene in the film, Hall -- who had shown up at an audition for extras on a whim with his girlfriend -- was among the first selected. "I'm even starting to look like a townie," Hall said.
He didn't make it past the picture's first cut, although teammates insist he looks like he belongs in a bar. At 6 feet 2, 266, with a menacing 40-stitch scar extended from his lower lip to chin, he looks like he might have fought a few saloon brawls. But the scar came from neither a fight nor a football game, but from falling on stairs in the rain as a freshman.
Hall was a three-time all-Met heavyweight wrestler at McNamara, but opted for football. Maryland's interest was only lukewarm, figuring a then-230-pound lineman was of little use. "They offered me a scholarship after Christmas, but I knew I was a second choice," Hall said. "I didn't have to be a second choice for anybody. I figured I'd go to Virginia and beat them, and that's what I've done."
His teammates elected Hall a tri-captain in spring, and this fall he began graduate work on a computer program that will assist disabled people such his brother, John, who was born mentally retarded and blind.
"We're 10 months apart -- I could have been my little brother very easily," Hall said. "He brings me down to earth. When I start hating football, I think: 'God could take football away from me just like that.' "
Collins started wearing black high-tops this season so his mother could more easily identify him, a glaring contrast to Virginia's orange and white uniforms. He spearheads an offensive line that has allowed Virginia running backs to rush for 327 yards a game, on an average of 6.5 yards a carry.
Collins drives a Ford Bronco and has an affinity for the Charlie Daniels Band, which could give away his roots in Shreveport, La., and Barre, Vt., a town as "hillbilly as you're going to get."
But compromises have been reached between the two. Hall goes along fishing with Collins, who in turn has accepted much of Hall's inner-city musical tastes. "But once I'm alone, out comes the Hank Williams," Collins said. "Some things he'll never be able to change about me."