As a wide receiver for Ohio State and in the NFL, Roy Hall's mission was to catch passes delivered by the quarterback.

As a wide receiver for Ohio State and in the NFL, Roy Hall's mission was to catch passes delivered by the quarterback.

Now, as part of his work through the Driven Foundation he created with former Buckeye teammate Antonio Smith, Hall's goal is that the message of perseverance he passed to a group of Holt Crossing Intermediate School students will be received.

Hall is conducting a 12-week mentorship program with a select group of 14 male Holt Crossing students.

"One of the things we're trying to instill in them is to use the challenges you face as a motivating force to build character and persevere," Hall said. "We all face challenges, but challenges can make champions."

The students participating in Hall's program are all facing challenges of one sort or another that are helping make school a struggle, Holt Crossing principal Denise Lutz said.

"They are not 'bad' kids. They're great kids," Hall said. "Right now, they are sitting on the fence and they could go left or they could go right.

"We're trying to get them to go in the right direction."

Hall said he sees himself as a young man in many of the students he works with.

"I grew up with an absent father and not having a father figure around and that affirmation we all need -- it was a struggle," he said. "I found a way to use that adversity as a motivation -- I was going to show everyone I could make something of myself.

"The motto of our foundation is, 'Never give up,' never tap out and never give in," Hall said.

Although only some of the Holt Crossing students come from single-parent homes, they all can benefit from "a positive male mentor and role model like Roy," Lutz said.

Hall meets with students for an hour each Thursday during intervention time, so the students do not miss any instruction, she said.

She had previously seen the impact Hall's mentorship program has at her previous school, Hannah J. Ashton Middle School in Reynoldsburg.

"I'm so excited that we've been able to bring the program to Holt Crossing," Lutz said. "We're interested in trying to create a way to build on and continue the connection formed between Roy and the students next year."

Along with discussions and student workbooks, the program also involves reading Boys Won't Be Boys, a book by local author Tim Brown.

The title is a play on the familiar expression, Hall said.

"That's something people say to excuse poor behavior and choices made by boys, you know, 'Well, boys will be boys,' " he said. "This book is all about how to live in an uncommon way in a common world and to act with honor and character."

College and pro athletes "have a platform we can use," he said.

"It's all about how you use that platform," he said. "A lot of people only use it for their own personal gain. We're trying to use the platform we have as a way to reach out and help others."

The Driven Foundation's programs include mentorship efforts at schools, a Birthday Bash for youngsters facing a life-threatening illness, motivational speaking and a holiday food outreach that has distributed more than 500,000 pounds of free food to almost 4,500 families.

Hall and Smith co-founded the nonprofit foundation in 2008.