Aug. 28, 2003
LARAMIE, Wyo. -
They say good things often come in small packages.
The University of Wyoming football team hopes that's the case this seasonwith redshirt freshman running back Ivan Harrison.
Harrison is arguably one of the fastest players on the UW team with4.4-second speed in the 40-yard dash. But at just 5-foot-7 and 176 pounds,he certainly isn't the biggest player on the roster.
In a game like football where players seem to be getting bigger every yearat every position, where do these little guys fit in? As far as UW isconcerned, Harrison fits in perfectly.
"Ivan is about as quick as he is fast," UW running backs coach Harvey Pattonsaid. "That's the one element he's going to bring to this offense that'sgoing to spark us."
Harrison, along with senior Derek Armah and sophomore C.R. Davis, hope tospark a UW running game that ranked last in the Mountain West Conference,and near the bottom of the nation, with just 100 yards rushing per game lastseason.
Armah and Davis are bigger backs and run better between the tackles.
Harrison's job is to get to the outside, make tacklers miss and potentiallybreak big plays.
But he's so tiny, how can a guy like that be a football player?
That's a question Harrison has dealt with all his life.
"I've always been looked down upon because of my size, and peopleunderestimated me ever since middle school football," Harrison said.
"I just showed them I can play. There really isn't anything I can say tochange their minds. I just let them watch me play."
As a senior in high school at Washington High in Kansas City, Kan., Harrisonwas an all-state, all-metro and all-league selection. He lettered infootball all four years he was in high school.
Harrison is the first to admit that he still has a lot to learn aboutplaying Division I football, and his first test will be at 2 p.m. Saturdayagainst Montana State at War Memorial Stadium. UW coach Joe Glenn said thebiggest thing Harrison still must master is blocking on pass plays.
But Harrison has made a believer among his teammates about his abilities,especially senior strongside linebacker Tyler Gottschalk.
Gottschalk suffered a high left ankle sprain during a scrimmage Thursdaytrying to make a tackle on Harrison.
"He almost broke my ankle," Gottschalk said. "You never get a clean shot onIvan. The guy has incredible moves - Barry Sanders-like moves. He's asmaller guy and a little light. But those are things he overcomes with justsure speed and mobility.
"You've got to keep him in the middle of your body and hope you can get ahand on him. Ivy's the type of guy if you fall asleep on him, he can go for70 or 80 yards on any play. The game can turn on any given play you hand theball off to him."