In general, height matters to college recruiters. There are time-tested typecasts coaches have for the various positions in their offensive and defensive systems. Bigger, faster and stronger, collectively, tends to prevail.
Will Likely figures to be one of south Florida's most coveted prospects this cycle.
But bigger is only one aspect of the equation. There are and have always been exceptions to the rule, as evidenced by the impact 5-foot-6 running back Darren Sproles had with the NFL’s New Orleans Saints this past season.
The permeation of spread offense principles has vastly expanded the market for players with open-field athleticism and skill, regardless of physical stature. That goes for running backs and receivers as well as the defensive backs charged with covering them.
As the 2013 recruiting class takes shape, 247Sports takes a look at five relatively diminutive prospects who could pay large dividends if part of your team’s eventual signing haul.
CB, 5-7, 170, Glades Central (Belle Glade, Fla.)
It’s a testament to Likely’s abilities that observers are quicker to note what he can do in contrast to his tangible half-a-foot (and more) height disadvantage against today’s towering split ends.
Likely, rated the nation’s No. 122 prospect by 247Sports, shows tremendous closing and recovery speed, plays physical and has good body composition for a corner. Even better, the tools translate into production; the state’s Gatorade Player of the Year – quite an honor for a small underclassman – tallied five interceptions while also accounting for 17 offensive touchdowns and three via return. Miami, Alabama, FSU, LSU and South Carolina have offered.
Khalfani Muhammad rushed for 1,126 yards and 12 touchdowns as a junior.
RB, 5-7, 175, Notre Dame (Sherman Oaks, Calif.)
Muhammad, rated the nation’s No. 124 prospect by 247Sports (it appears we reserved the 120s for the vertically challenged) could be this year’s version of Vanderbilt signee Brian Kimbrow.
When Muhammad reaches the corner, it’s a foot race up the field that defenders infrequently win. The all-purpose back as also adept in the screen game and isn’t afraid to accelerate through traffic. UCLA and Washington have offered, and Muhammad recently finished second in the state’s 55-meter indoor dash.
CB, 5-9, 175, Westlake (Thousand Oaks, Calif.)
Hunt, who committed to UCLA last August, is rated the nation’s No. 126 prospect by 247Sports. He is a thick, physical defender who knows how to use his body to negate size differential and get to the ball.
The four-star prospect figures to continue to be targeted by the West Coast’s major programs as his star rises.
J.J. Green averaged 12.9 yards a rush, 24.1 yards a catch and stockpiled 23 touchdowns as a junior.
CB/ATH, 5-8, 175, Camden County (Kingsland, Ga.)
Sandy Creek (Ga.) corner Shaq Wiggins could just as easily have gotten this nod. Wiggins ranks as the nation’s No. 129 prospect by 247Sports and already holds at least eight BCS offers despite his height disadvantage.
But we’re venturing a bit more off the beaten path for an even shorter prospect in Green, who carries an 89 rating from 247Sports and might have a slightly generous height listing as is. Green is a fantastic kick returner and could be used as a dual slot receiver/back in certain offenses. Duke is Green’s lone offer, but the teammate of Top247 quarterback Brice Ramsey is on regional radars.
WR, 5-8, 160, Bastrop (La.)
Bastrop produced one of the state’s top three prospects in the 2012 cycle in linebacker Denzel Devall, who signed with Alabama. But the Rams have a dynamic playmaker ready to break out in Wilson, who registered 69 catches for 872 yards and 11 touchdowns as a junior, with his most prolific production coming in the team’s biggest games.
Wilson has yet to snag an offer but has the attention of the SEC’s Western Division, most notably home flagship LSU.