Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

UF's Small Trying to Shake 'Possession' Label; Senior Receiver Looking to Show He Has the Speed to Scare Defenses

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

UF's Small Trying to Shake 'Possession' Label; Senior Receiver Looking to Show He Has the Speed to Scare Defenses

Article excerpt

Byline: Michael DiRocco, The Times-Union

GAINESVILLE -- The proof is on page 148 of the 2004 Florida football media guide.

Wide receiver O.J. Small caught a 52-yard pass against Ole Miss last season.

A deep pass, thrown by quarterback Chris Leak, and Small snared it.

Stick that "possession receiver" label in your ear.

"Everybody knows I'm not going to get out there and run the fastest 40, but on the field I bet I play faster than what my 40 says," Small said Monday as the Gators had their first practice of the 2004 season.

Labels are hard to shake, though, and despite Small's objections -- plus those of his teammates and coach -- the former Forrest High School standout has one. He's a possession receiver, and it has become an almost obligatory phrase that follows his name in print in newspapers and preseason publications.

It has positive and negative connotations. It implies a sure-handed receiver who will make the clutch catch, but it also insinuates that the senior is . . . not that fast. He's sometimes been called Glacier.

"I don't hate being known as a possession guy, but I do want people to know I can catch it first, second, third and fourth down if need be," Small said. "This is not a track, so I have football speed. We're not on a track running, so I bet I can get open.

"Speed's not everything to me. I know I can get open. The quarterbacks know I can get open."

Small's exact speed is hard to determine. He won't say his 40 time, but Leak mentioned 4.5 seconds. That's pretty good, but it seems worse when you compare it to the sub 4.4s run by Andre Caldwell and Chad Jackson.

"You saw him last year catch a couple nice, deep balls," Leak said. "He has deceptive speed. He gets on you real quick. He's a 4.5 guy, and you don't find too many guys faster than that. …

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