The 2009 All-Small-Senior Team: Defense Edition

JDAnalyst IAugust 20, 2009

PASADENA, CA - NOVEMBER 10:  Craig Sheppard #21 of the UCLA Bruins tries to get by Dexter Davis #58 of the Arizona State Sun Devils during the fourth quarter at the Rose Bowl November 10, 2007 in Pasadena, California. Arizona State won 24-20.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

Who doesn't love a little guy that plays big? 

I have always had a soft spot for those college football super-success-stories shunned to the end of the NFL draft and free agency simply because their cleats are a little smaller than normal.

Rudy isn't my favorite movie, but I love the idea of a big shout out to the little men of college football. 

That being said, here is my tribute to the smaller senior stars of 2009.

Defensive End: Eric Norwood, South Carolina (6'1", 255 pounds) and Dexter Davis, Arizona State (6'2", 252 pounds)

Can you believe Norwood was a late-round or free agent projection in the 2009 draft because he's short? I find it hard to argue with his 14.5 tackles for loss and nine sacks last season.

I have no idea why people place Davis even lower than Norwood on their charts, as he had 15 tackles for loss and 11 sacks in 2008. 

Both of these guys, barring bad seasons, should find decent homes on NFL rosters next fall.

Defensive Tackle: Mick Williams, Pitt (6'1", 285 pounds) and Malcolm Sheppard, Arkansas (6'2", 282 pounds)

These two guys are only relatively small, and both showed big potential in 2008.

Mick Williams, recruited as a fullback, has taken big strides over the past two seasons and should only get better this year. Malcolm Sheppard is well-known for using his quickness to disrupt plays in the backfield.

I should note that undersized nose tackles are in an unusual category, so this team will be playing a 3-4.

Outside Linebacker: Patrick Benoist, Vanderbilt (6'0", 222 pounds) and Vincent Rey, Duke (6'0", 245 pounds)

Benoist's name only recently got out thereand is probably being mispronouncedthanks to a great 2008 campaign. Unfortunately, it will still be hard to plan offenses around his quickness and to avoid his abilities in coverage.

Vincent Rey, on the other hand, has been Mr. Consistent for Duke over the past two seasons. If this stocky little run-stuffer slims down and speeds up, he may sneak onto an NFL roster somewhere too.

Inside Linebacker: Boris Lee, Troy (6'0", 232 pounds)

Several people suggested putting Darryl Sharpton here, but the guy is from Miami and runs at least a 4.5 40-yard dash. He will get plenty of attention this season.

Boris Lee, however, is your classic small guy from a small school putting up huge stats (112 tackles, 9.5 TFL, 4.5 sacks, 4 PBU) that not many people will glance twice at.

Cornerback: Javier Arenas, Alabama (5'9", 198 pounds) and Syd'Quan Thompson, Cal (5'9", 187 pounds)

Unsurprisingly, both of these guys probably have solid NFL careers ahead of them, as small corners aren't a big issue. Arenas has more potential and is stronger, but both are rather quick and good return men.

Speaking of return men, I'll pay tribute to Florida A&M's 5'9", 185-pound LeRoy Vann here, who had six returns for touchdowns last year and will likely make the NFL as a cornerback and returner thanks to his 4.39 speed.

Safety: Anthony Baker, Louisiana Tech (5'11", 200 pounds) and P.J. Mahone, Bowling Green (5'11", 202 pounds)

While neither is peculiarly small, both will have to have even bigger seasons than last to avoid being passed over by the 2010 draft.

Anthony Baker had 115 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, four pass breakups and pulled three passes out of the air last season, while Mahone had 97 tackles, broke up seven passes and had three picks as well.

I promise I mean no offense, but it is unsurprisingly hard to find these small names in a crowd of big ones!  If you readers think of any that should be recognized, please post them on the board below and we'll get them the credit they deserve!


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