Football is seen as a game of speed, athleticism and size, but for three ASU football players, what they lack in size, they intend to make up with heart.
Redshirt sophomore wide receiver Ryan Newsome is listed at 5-foot-8 and 176 pounds. Compared to some of his counterparts, who stand at 6-foot-3, 6-foot-4 and 6-foot-7, Newsome may not intimidate opposing defensive backs.
However, his speed is second to none on ASU’s roster, and the same applies to his time at the University of Texas.
“In high school it never really came up that often to be honest,” Newsome said. “Nobody ever really talked about my size. I guess it was just because I was fast and elusive, maybe that’s why.”
ASU has had speedsters before, most recently Tim White, but Newsome said he is more than just a quick receiver.
“(I'm) just trying to bring something to this program that they’ve really never had,” Newsome said.
Despite a smaller stature, Newsome works with both the first and second team offense and is competing with redshirt sophomore wide receiver John Humphrey for the position of starting punt returner.
No matter who commands the returner spot or who plays ahead of Newsome, he said he goes into each game trying to get scouts to say, “okay he’s small, but he plays big.”
“You can’t measure my heart,” Newsome said. “They’ll be able to see that when we get out on the field.”
Sophomore and fellow wide receiver Kyle Williams, who plays at 5-foot-10 and 180 pounds, said he believes height helps those larger than him, but without a love for the game it means nothing.
“I definitely feel my heart and soul is in this game,” Williams said. “I’ll do whatever it takes to make sure this team is successful.”
Williams isn’t the tallest receiver on the field and acknowledges the fact that each wide out has a different style – his just happens to be centered around agility.
“I feel like I’ve been playing football in this body frame for years now, so I realize I’m not that kind of big receiver, but my game is different,” he said. “Like me and N’keal (Harry’s) game differs a lot.”
Williams didn't put up star-studded numbers in his freshman campaign, but he was a triple threat on offense, defense and special teams.
Someone trying to be just as versatile this season is freshman running back Eno Benjamin, who is listed at 5-foot-10 and 200 pounds.
The highly-recruited tailback has made a unique name for himself among the deep running back group: Batman.
“Like Coach Simon says, it feels like I’m not the biggest, I’m not the fastest, but just being able to outsmart everyone is my goal,” Benjamin said.
This masked man intends to carve out a niche for himself all over the field. Benjamin takes reps with the second team offense during practice, and finds himself on the starting kick return unit.
Benjamin plays one of the most grueling positions on a football field, but said no matter the size of the opponent it won’t change his game.
“No matter how badly beat up I am, you’re always going to get 100 percent from me,” he said.
ASU’s first game is quickly approaching, and Benjamin said he has not put in countless hours of work to fall short on Thursday.
“We didn’t grind as hard as we did to have a losing record,” Benjamin said. “I’ve never grinded so hard in my life.”