Not about size of Dawg in fight, it’s about size of fight in Dawg

By Thomas Donley, @tdonleyDE

Despite being a position of depth, SIU’s running backs have the least height in the Missouri Valley Football Conference. 

The average Saluki tailback is 5 feet, 8.6 inches tall. The average Valley running back stands 5 feet, 10.5 inches.

Saluki junior running back Aaron Stanton is the shortest player in the MVFC at 5 feet, 5 inches. He leads the team’s running backs in carries.

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Stanton said his lack of height translates to a low center of gravity, which makes it harder for defenders to get low enough to bring him down.

“I like to use that to my advantage,” Stanton said. “You’ve just got to know the characteristics of your body when you run.”

Stanton said he likes to hide behind his blockers before hitting an open hole, but said there are some drawbacks to that running style.

“You can’t see everybody’s heads, so you have to look through gaps,” Stanton said. “It’s kind of harder to read stuff out every once in a while.”

Sophomore Cameron Walter and freshman Daquan Isom are second among Saluki running backs in carries — both are 5 feet, 8 inches tall. 

Injury is a common concern among smaller football players. Walter said even if the Saluki backs are at higher risk of getting hurt, it is not something they can worry about. 

“You can’t have any fear going into the game,” Walter said. “You’ve got to be a warrior out there. It’s hit or be hit.”

Running backs coach Larry Warner — who stands 5 feet, 5 inches — played running back at SIU from 2007 to 2008. He said size is not very important for the position.

“Playing running back has never been a height thing for me,” Warner said. “It’s all about hitting the hole.”

Warner led SIU with 1,265 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2008. He was second on the team in rushing yards and third in all-purpose yards in 2007. 

Historically, Saluki running backs have come in all shapes and sizes. Brandon Jacobs, who is 6 feet, 4 inches and weighs 260 pounds, led SIU with 19 touchdowns and 992 yards rushing in 2004. Jacobs has since won two Super Bowl rings with the New York Giants.

Thomas Donley can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @tdonleyDE. 

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