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SMALL BACK, BIG IMPACT

USF freshman Lindsey Lamar's style belies a 160-pound frame.

Lindsey Lamar was the smallest player to line up for USF on Saturday, weighing all of 160 pounds "with rocks in his pockets," said offensive coordinator Mike Canales.

The freshman running back from Hillsborough High would just as soon be judged by the size of his impact.

"I run like I'm about 225," said Lamar, a 5-foot-9 blur who had 12 touches for 63 yards, including a 13-yard touchdown run in a 40-7 win against Wofford.

The Bulls knew Lamar had track-star speed before he came to campus - he ran the 100 meters in 10.35 seconds in track this spring - but he's impressed his teammates and surprised opponents with his ability to take a hit and keep moving downfield.

"He's a little dude, but he keeps his feet moving," defensive end George Selvie said. "He breaks tackles and everything, and that surprised me, him being like 170 pounds. Him being so little and still having that much power, getting extra yards after contact, it's great to have a guy like that running the ball."

Ask Hillsborough coach Earl Garcia about Lamar weighing 160 pounds, and he says the former Terrier has been busy in the weight room.

"One-thirty-five," Garcia says, asked how big Lamar was when he came to Hillsborough as a sophomore after one season at Armwood.

In his second game at Hillsborough, Lamar suffered what Garcia called a "catastrophic" knee injury on a kickoff, dislocating his kneecap and tearing the anterior cruciate and posterior cruciate ligaments, requiring reconstructive surgery.

He showed his toughness in a yearlong rehabilitation, wearing a brace as he led his team in rushing as a junior. As a senior, he led the county in rushing, gaining 1,319 yards and scoring 18 touchdowns, with a ridiculous 10.9 yards per carry.

"He's a player. He's very bright, has great vision, great hands, and he's the fastest kid I've ever coached," Garcia said. "And I've coached some fast cats."

Having spent almost a full season away from football gave Lamar a humility to match his speed, such that he hasn't taken his success for granted.

"I'm really blessed, and so thankful," Lamar said after Saturday's victory. "I'm just extremely blessed to be able to come out here and play. ... Tonight was one of the greatest experiences of my life."

Lamar rushed for 39 yards on eight carries and caught four passes, as many as any of USF's returning backs totaled in all of last season. On the play before his touchdown, he caught a screen from Matt Grothe on fourth down to keep the drive alive.

His touchdown came with a little help from the biggest player on the field, 320-pound left tackle Jeremiah Warren, who pushed behind Lamar as he was stopped for a second by defenders. Lamar kept his legs moving and darted outside, going untouched for his first college touchdown.

"He's a guy that, when he runs the ball, he's doing to die hard," running backs coach Carl Franks said. "He's not going to go to the ground easily."

Even with top backs Mike Ford and Jamar Taylor out because of suspension and injury, respectively, USF will have a chance to show off its running game Saturday against a Western Kentucky team that allowed Tennessee to rush for 388 yards in a 63-7 win Saturday.

Garcia said if Lamar can get up to maybe 185 pounds in the next few years, he'll have a future in pro football. For now, he's just 160, everywhere except in his own mind.

"He runs hard, runs like he's a 200-pound back," said senior running back Mo Plancher, himself 204 pounds. "On one run, he bounced off three or four guys and didn't get tackled. Definitely, his attitude is different from his body size."

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