The soap opera that is University of Utah football place-kicking has yet another chapter.

Ford Hall, who sat out all of last season after injuring a thigh muscle last August, told the Deseret Morning News Monday evening that there is only a "1 percent" chance that he will return to the team.

Hall is fairly certain that he will attend a private Christian NAIA college near his home in Coffeyville, Kan. His sister and several friends are already enrolled there, and he will decide in the next week whether to go there or to one of several other Kansas-area schools that are bidding for his services.

"I haven't given them a verbal agreement" yet, he said, but he's planning to, though he'd have to pay much of the in-state tuition because the school doesn't have full athletic scholarships.

Hall, a junior-college transfer last fall, said he has nothing against Utah and enjoyed spring semester, when his injured leg felt better. Hall, who had long but well-kept hair last fall, immediately cut it when Urban Meyer became coach last December, indicating he planned to stay.

But he was disappointed last month when he talked with Meyer, who told him that sophomore-to-be Bryan Borreson was a little ahead of him coming out of spring drills.

"He didn't exactly lose it," Meyer said about the place-kicking job. "He didn't win it."

Hall said he didn't mind competing, but "something (Meyer) said" gave him the feeling he had to "try out" again in August.

Borreson was his best friend at Utah, and it was stressful to Hall to vie with him. "It was terrible," he said. "I hated competing against Borreson." Thinking about having to do it again in the fall was distasteful to Hall.

Ironically, Borreson unexpectedly left Utah last summer and enrolled at a junior college near his home in California because he, like Ford, simply wanted to compete. Borreson, a walk-on who went through spring drills as a redshirt in 2002, left Utah when he heard that Hall was coming in on scholarship.

When Hall was hurt in fall 2002 training, Borreson was lured back and kicked all of last season, though he also suffered a thigh-muscle injury. He is still seeking a scholarship.

And that's one of the reasons Hall said he's giving up his ride without ever having officially kicked a ball at the U. "I wanted Borreson to get a chance to get a scholarship," Hall said. "I think Borreson's going to do a good job. He had a growing year."

Borreson kicked well until midseason, when he also strained a leg muscle but had to keep kicking because Hall wasn't able to come back from his injury, which is still somewhat bothersome, Hall said.

Hall is the second kicker Utah has lost since last season. Returned LDS missionary Justin Hamblin, a Clearfield High product, was to begin school but was told by the new coach that he would have to earn a scholarship. Hamblin had signed an NCAA letter of intent with the Ron McBride staff prior to his mission, but returned missionaries are recruitable athletes, and Meyer wasn't aware of Hamblin in the confusing days of the regime change. Hamblin is now kicking for Utah State.


E-MAIL: lham@desnews.com