Arkansas has had a fullback tucked away for a couple of weeks now and Salinas (CA) Hartnell…
A Second Chance for Small
At 21 years-old, Kiero Small from Hartnell Community College (Salinas, Ca.) is finally living out his dream, a dream that up until recently seemed far from attainable. "This is a dream come true," he said in response to signing his letter of intent to play at Arkansas. "It's a dream going to a school of this caliber." Four years ago, the Maryland high school star was a sought after prospect. "In high school it was everybody telling me you are going here you are going there and things of that sort. I was receiving a lot of letters. Going into my senior I had ACC schools looking at me, a few Big 10 schools." Coaches loved him, but scholarships halted because of his academics. He was not academically qualified. "It was a humbling experience that grades do matter," said Small. It's a story we hear too often in the world of college recruiting - another promising athlete left behind because of academics. "I learned that the real hard way," said Small. Small watched his aspirations of playing division-1 ball crumble. In an effort to improve his SAT scores, Small attended Valley Forge, but unfortunately missed the Division-1 SAT requirement by 10 points. He then committed to Shepherd University, a division-two program that was at the time ranked 8th in the country, but Small never made it there. "I made poor decisions," said Small. Small sat out an entire year before something just clicked. It was then that he decided to join his cousin out in Salinas, California. "I felt like I was selling myself short. I was looking at junior colleges to go to and talked to a coach at Hartnell Community College and despite not having all the cookie cutter intangibles, he gave me a chance out here." That one chance was all Small needed. "I remember telling myself basically, it was like, this is it. I messed it up in high school and didn't get the job done in prep school and this is it. I am across the country, and I am going to focus or I might as well go home. That is how I looked at it." Focused and driven, Small not only earned a 3.5 GPA his first semester but after two stellar seasons at linebacker, he received a phone call that changed his life. "Coach Petrino called. He basically told me that I was what they were looking for in a fullback. I was happy for him to be calling me and for the opportunity. They ended up coming to my house that following week." "It's another chance and another challenge. All through my life has been a challenge. And to go play at that level I don't doubt it, but I look at it as another challenge and an opportunity that the coaching staff has that much faith in me that I can play." Once a guy who struggled on his SATs, Small now has seen his name on Hartnell's Deans List for the past four semesters. He is the first male in his family to graduate from high school and is on target to graduate from a prestigious university like Arkansas. "Just the opportunity to finish my degree and play football at one of the highest levels you can play college football, is all that I could ever ask." Small will be looking to step in for Razorback senior fullback Van Stumon.
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