Rice walk-on packs big heart into college football’s smallest frame

Jayson Carter joined the Rice football team as a walk-on last week, and already he's the biggest thing on the field — mostly because he's the smallest thing.

Carter, a running back, is 4-foot-9, 130 pounds, qualifying him for dwarfism according to an advocacy group, Little People of America, and making him one of the smallest players to ever play the game at any level. Other players who have checked in at the 5-foot-something range — LSU's kick returner Trindon Holliday was 5-5, and Kansas State receiver Brandon Banks was 5-7, and of course, who could forget Notre Dame defensive end Rudy Ruettiger at 5-6 to name a few — but the list of FBS players under 5-feet is very short (pun absolutely intended).

Carter, however, doesn't see his size as a limitation.

"If they ever come up with a device that measures the heart and put it on top of my head, they'll see I'm 6-9," said Carter told a local TV station.

Rice coach David Bailiff doesn't see Carter's size as a limitation either. Bailiff said he plans to somehow get Carter on the field this year. In what role, he didn't know, but Carter put up decent stats at Kipp High School, a charter school in Houston.{YSP:MORE}

According to the website BeRecruited.com, Carter managed 1,233 yards and 18 touchdowns during his career at Kipp, but his most impressive stats come on defense where he had 92 tackles, 152 assisted tackles, three sacks and an interception. It's probably safe to assume that the majority of the guys he was tackling were bigger than he was. He also excelled as a kick returner.

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Of course, Kipp High, an independent school in the Houston area that plays other small academies, is a far cry from the FBS level and playing competition like No. 17 Houston, Rice's next opponent, but it shows that he can excel in the game despite his height.

And who wouldn't want to see a guy like Carter on the field? It might actually give the Owls a bit of an advantage to hand him the ball considering he's built so low to the ground. It might be difficult for opposing teams to tackle him, especially since those players probably haven't faced a player that size since long before high school.

"All of my life I went against guys that are at least 70 pounds heavier than I am," Carter said. "So it's nothing I'm not used to. When they see me they're like, 'whoa what's going on.' That gives me the upper hand."

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Graham Watson is on Facebook and Twitter: Follow her @Yahoo_Graham.

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