March 22, 2004

Smaller prospects getting big offers

They say that size isn't everything and that seems to be the motto for a handful of standout recruits in the Atlantic East area that are a bit vertically challenged compared to others at their positions. However, this lack of height hasn't stopped top college programs from tendering offers.

Starting with our pre-evaluation Rivals100, two players 5-foot-9 and under are getting serious looks from many of the biggies in college football.

Ramsey (N.J.) Don Bosco Prep wide receiver/cornerback Michael Ray Garvin has been arguably the top playmaker for the Jersey state champs (outside of 2004 five-star Brian Toal) by using his impressive strength strength (295 pound bench press) to make plays against the run and nobody gets behind him or over him despite his small stature.

On offense, Garvin's blazing speed (4.37-second 40-yard dash time at the U.S. Army Junior Combine in January) allows him to beat most defenders and his leaping ability (33-inch vertical) helps bring down the ball in traffic. The Jersey speedster already has written offers from Rutgers and Boston College and has received letters from Michigan, Penn State, Syracuse, Iowa, Florida, Miami, Nebraska and Virginia among several others.

Hampton (Va.) Phoebus running back Elan Lewis is also a shade under 5-foot-9 like Garvin, but the shifty running back plays much bigger. Lewis, who has been a start in Virginia since he was a sophomore, rushed for 1,866 yards last season and 18 scores. Lewis already has offers from Virginia Tech, Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia, Syracuse and others. Lewis is a cutback runner with excellent speed and vision. At 185 solid pounds, he's also hard to tackle with his low-to-the-ground frame.

Also dotting the Rivals100 are two pint-sized quarterbacks from the Atlantic East area.

Gretna, Va. signal-caller Vic Hall may be only 5-foot-11 and around 180 pounds (soaking wet), but he's the most dynamic quarterback prospect from the state of Virginia without the last name Vick in years.

Hall is as dangerous with his feet as he is with his arm, amassing 1,635 yards on 188 carries and 20 touchdowns to go with 3,033 yards and 31 touchdowns (against only five interceptions) in the air as a junior. Hall's 4,668 total offensive yards is a Virginia High School League record and he led his team to a perfect 14-0 record. While Hall has already committed to Virginia, schools like Notre Dame, Miami, North Carolina, South Carolina, Northwestern, Arizona State and Nebraska have not given up hope.

Perhaps the most athletic mighty-mite of all is Manlius (N.Y.) Christian Brothers Academy quarterback Greg Paulus, who more than 70 scholarship offers combined between football and basketball. The 6-foot-1, 180-pounder has already committed to Duke to play point guard, but there has been some talk that he might take a look at football again before making a final decision.

The top quarterback in New York since his freshman year, Paulus would have a tremendous future in football despite his less-than-stellar size, but playing hoops at Duke is hard to pass up. If he decides to play football, schools like Florida, Notre Dame, Syracuse and Miami would all be more than happy to throw a hat in the ring.

Another diminutive player attracting attention is Jersey City (N.J.) St. Peter's Prep running back/cornerback Mike Brown, who is one of the top 10 players in his home state. Brown, a giant of sorts on this list at 5-foot-10, has a 40-inch vertical leap and offers from Penn State, Notre Dame, Boston College, Virginia and Michigan State.

A few others in the Atlantic East to keep an eye on are 5-foot-8 tailback Travis Padgett from Shelby (N.C.) Crest (Duke offer), 5-foot-9 cornerback Willie Harriott from New Haven (Conn.) Hyde Leadership (offers from Penn State, Syracuse, Virginia Tech, Rutgers, UConn and Iowa), 5-foot-9 cornerback Jamar Jackson from Hampton (Va.) Bethel (Virginia, Virginia Tech and Maryland have offered) and 5-foot-9 athlete LaRod Stephens from Johnstown, Pa. (Pitt offer).

With the emergence of super-sized wide receivers, skyscraping quarterbacks and big, hulking running backs across the nation, many have predicted that the little guys will soon be a thing of the past - the dinosaurs of college football. Hold onto that thought for now, because with the class of 2005 in the Atlantic East, good things sometimes do come in smaller packages.


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