As the only fullback in the Seahawks’ rookie minicamp, the inappropriately named Small participated on both the Green and Blue teams during the scrimmage that capped the third and final practice.
“I was on both teams, so it pretty much worked for me,” said Small, who might be vertically challenged at 5 feet 8½, but is hardly small at 247 pounds.
The Green team won 10-7, but then Small has been considering himself a winner since the Seahawks called his name in the seventh round of the NFL Draft last Saturday. He might have been the 227th of the 256 players selected, but the important thing is that Small was drafted.
It wasn’t that long ago that he figured his football career had slipped into the past tense. That’s when he was back home in Baltimore working in his family’s wholesale T-shirt business. He might have a body built to play football, but no one would give him the opportunity to do it.
“I thank God that I got back to play football,” he said.
And Small’s career has been all over the map – geographically, but also when it comes to his position.
Small was an All-City running back and linebacker at Cardinal Gibbons High School in Baltimore, after transferring from Mervo High following his freshman year. Then it was off to Hartnell Community College in Salinas, Calif., where he played middle linebacker for two seasons – registering 229 tackles, 8.5 sacks and three interceptions while being named an All-California selection both seasons.
It was at the University of Arkansas, and after that stint in the T-shirt shop, where Small became a fullback. And even that didn’t come easy.
“That was my only offer,” he said when asked how he ended up at Arkansas. “I got offered maybe the last week of the whole recruiting process. I went down there on a visit. And I actually didn’t have an offer even I went for there; I got the offer on the visit.”
Coach Pete Carroll likes what he’s seeing from Small the fullback, and visions of what this guy might be able to do on special teams already are dancing in Carroll’s head.
“He’s a legit fullback,” Carroll said. “He loves the position, and he has a sense for it and a little chip on his shoulder about it. I’m hoping that he would be a real factor in special teams, as well. He’s a tough guy and he can catch the ball really well, too. So he showed that.
“The position is not anything that he can’t handle. He really is well equipped for it with his background.”
Small had his eyes on the Seahawks long before they decided to give him a look.
“When I got drafted, it was a dream that I had since I was a kid,” he said. “And then to get drafted to a team that I really rooted for through the whole playoffs, I just love the way the Seahawks play football. It’s a physical brand of ball. So it was pretty much a dream come true.”
“A lot of guys were saying when I was at home that I wouldn’t get into school, and people said that I wouldn’t get to a D-I university,” he said in a singsong way that showed the negative talk really had become repetitive.
And while his last name doesn’t match his body, it doesn’t measure his heart or his want-to, either.
“They can say what they want,” he said. “But I figure if I work hard and get a shot; it’s on me after that.”
And now, it’s a Seahawks jersey that’s on Small. And he couldn’t be happier to have traded in the T-shirts for that No. 34 blue jersey with his name on the back.
“It’s great. It happened so quick,” he said of the past week. “I got drafted Saturday, was on a plane Sunday morning and we’ve just been out playing football since I got in. So it’s been a great experience.”