Eckel rushed for 1,147 yards and 11 touchdowns last season to cap one of the finest careers in school history, during which he amassed 2,906 yards and 25 touchdowns before signing a free agent contract with the New England Patriots in April.

The 5-foot-9, 216-pound Hall outshined five other players at his position during preseason practice to earn the starting job. The junior's biggest challenge was expected to come from 6-foot-1, 240-pound sophomore Adam Ballard, but Ballard suffered a hamstring injury that forced him to be held out of practice for more than a week earlier this month.

"My biggest priority during the preseason was to establish myself as a starter," said Hall, who rushed for 63 yards on 19 carries last year. "We still have a few weeks before our first game against Maryland, and I still have to get better, but I like the position I'm in."

Navy Coach Paul Johnson has complimented Hall's play several times in recent weeks, including after the team's first scrimmage when Hall rushed for 50 yards on 15 carries and caught two passes for 37 yards.

"Matt has had a great camp and is our starter," Johnson said. "Once Adam got hurt, Matt really took control. He always runs hard, and he's pretty quick."

Junior Matt Hall won the starting job over five others.