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Published: June 16, 2015 at 12:15 p.m.

15 for '15: College football's smallest players

» Complete 15 for '15 series

Little people, big impact. That's what stood out in CFB 24/7's look at 15 of the smallest players in the college game. Most of them are starters or significant contributors, yet all but one 5-8 or shorter, and they only weigh anywhere from 150 to 178 pounds.

The smallest of them all, Kent State's Ernest Calhoun (5-6, 151 pounds), led the Flashes in all-purpose yards last year with 1,033. Bottom line: these guys can play. And if the NFL has room for the likes of Trindon Holliday, Dexter McCluster, Dri Archer and T.Y. Hilton, it could well have room one day for a few of these.

15 Photos Total

  • <b>Size</b>: 5-7, 150
<br><b>Buzz</b>: A backup last year in the Horned Frogs' prolific offense, White averaged about one catch per game as a freshman. All the team's top receivers from last year return, including the No. 1 target, Josh Doctson, so the pecking order for White isn't getting any easier. 15

    Ashley Landis / Associated Press

    15. Desmon White, WR, TCU

    Size: 5-7, 150
    Buzz: A backup last year in the Horned Frogs' prolific offense, White averaged about one catch per game as a freshman. All the team's top receivers from last year return, including the No. 1 target, Josh Doctson, so the pecking order for White isn't getting any easier.

  • <b>Size</b>: 5-7, 176
<br><b>Buzz</b>: The younger Sanders is a gifted return specialist, but last year he showed a bit more production in the Mustangs' offense with 23 catches for 188 yards. That's just an average of 8.2 yards per reception -- not exactly the explosiveness one might expect from the son of Prime Time -- but in an anemic offense that scored just 133 points on the season, opportunities were few for all of SMU's playmakers. In the return game, Sanders averaged 20.5 yards on 37 returns. 14

    Michael Dwyer / AP

    14. Deion Sanders, Jr., WR, SMU

    Size: 5-7, 176
    Buzz: The younger Sanders is a gifted return specialist, but last year he showed a bit more production in the Mustangs' offense with 23 catches for 188 yards. That's just an average of 8.2 yards per reception -- not exactly the explosiveness one might expect from the son of Prime Time -- but in an anemic offense that scored just 133 points on the season, opportunities were few for all of SMU's playmakers. In the return game, Sanders averaged 20.5 yards on 37 returns.

  • <b>Size</b>: 5-8, 160
<br><b>Buzz</b>: Ole Miss isn't the only team in the Magnolia State with a tiny running back. But unlike the Rebels, MSU's offense calls for a bigger, more powerful back handling most of the carries. As such, Holloway figures to play a backup role this fall, but not an unimportant one. Last year he carried 45 times for 294 yards, 6.5 per rush. He should also be a presence on kickoff returns for the Bulldogs this fall. 13

    Rogelio V. Solis / AP

    13. Brandon Holloway, RB, Mississippi State

    Size: 5-8, 160
    Buzz: Ole Miss isn't the only team in the Magnolia State with a tiny running back. But unlike the Rebels, MSU's offense calls for a bigger, more powerful back handling most of the carries. As such, Holloway figures to play a backup role this fall, but not an unimportant one. Last year he carried 45 times for 294 yards, 6.5 per rush. He should also be a presence on kickoff returns for the Bulldogs this fall.

  • <b>Size</b>: 5-6, 151
<br><b>Buzz</b>: Entering his junior season, Calhoun looks to expand his impact beyond his primary role of kickoff returns. He ran 34 of them back last year for 709 yards. Offensively, he pulled in 33 passes, but didn't get downfield much with 319 receiving yards. Still, he's the top returning receiver on the roster and Kent State has a clear need for increased production. 12

    John Beale / Associated Press

    12. Ernest Calhoun, WR, Kent State

    Size: 5-6, 151
    Buzz: Entering his junior season, Calhoun looks to expand his impact beyond his primary role of kickoff returns. He ran 34 of them back last year for 709 yards. Offensively, he pulled in 33 passes, but didn't get downfield much with 319 receiving yards. Still, he's the top returning receiver on the roster and Kent State has a clear need for increased production.

  • <b>Size</b>: 5-8, 166
<br><b>Buzz</b>: Wiggins has four career kickoff returns for touchdowns, and his next will break a Mountain West Conference record. He averaged 29.3 yards last season, but didn't have enough returns (13) to qualify in national rankings after missing several games due to injury. A year prior to that, he was the Mountain West Special Teams Player of the Year. Wiggins also runs track for the Lobos, and according to coach Bob Davie, he might add punt returns to his duties this fall. 11

    Eric Draper / Associated Press

    11. Carlos Wiggins, WR, New Mexico

    Size: 5-8, 166
    Buzz: Wiggins has four career kickoff returns for touchdowns, and his next will break a Mountain West Conference record. He averaged 29.3 yards last season, but didn't have enough returns (13) to qualify in national rankings after missing several games due to injury. A year prior to that, he was the Mountain West Special Teams Player of the Year. Wiggins also runs track for the Lobos, and according to coach Bob Davie, he might add punt returns to his duties this fall.

  • <b>Size</b>: 5-8, 175
<br><b>Buzz</b>: McKenzie became a crowd favorite at Sanford Stadium last year as a freshman with his exciting return skills. He didn't have enough returns (11) to qualify for NCAA rankings, but his average (28.1) would have put him among the top 10 in the country. With a 12.1-yard punt-return average, he did rank in that category (seventh in nation). As with several listed here, he should be a bigger presence on offense this fall. 10

    David Stephenson / Associated Press

    10. Isaiah McKenzie, WR, Georgia

    Size: 5-8, 175
    Buzz: McKenzie became a crowd favorite at Sanford Stadium last year as a freshman with his exciting return skills. He didn't have enough returns (11) to qualify for NCAA rankings, but his average (28.1) would have put him among the top 10 in the country. With a 12.1-yard punt-return average, he did rank in that category (seventh in nation). As with several listed here, he should be a bigger presence on offense this fall.

  • <b>Size</b>: 5-8, 178
<br><b>Buzz</b>: Two years into his career, the Utes' defensive back is still looking for his first interception. But he's contributed in plenty of other ways, from a fumble recovery against Arizona to a sack against UCLA. With 37 tackles last year and seven pass breakups, he's got enough experience now at both cornerback and nickelback to nail down a full-time role as a fourth-year junior this fall. 9

    Rick Osentoski / USA TODAY Sports

    9. Justin Thomas, DB, Utah

    Size: 5-8, 178
    Buzz: Two years into his career, the Utes' defensive back is still looking for his first interception. But he's contributed in plenty of other ways, from a fumble recovery against Arizona to a sack against UCLA. With 37 tackles last year and seven pass breakups, he's got enough experience now at both cornerback and nickelback to nail down a full-time role as a fourth-year junior this fall.

  • <b>Size</b>: 5-7, 177
<br><b>Buzz</b>: After making a big impact as a freshman in 2013, injuries last year took a toll on Phillips' playing time and, thus, his production. He caught 25 passes for 272 yards after more than doubling those numbers the year before. He holds the Arizona bowl record for receiving yards (193 vs. Boston College in the 2013 Advocare V100 Bowl). 8

    Jeff Chiu / AP

    8. Nate Phillips, WR, Arizona

    Size: 5-7, 177
    Buzz: After making a big impact as a freshman in 2013, injuries last year took a toll on Phillips' playing time and, thus, his production. He caught 25 passes for 272 yards after more than doubling those numbers the year before. He holds the Arizona bowl record for receiving yards (193 vs. Boston College in the 2013 Advocare V100 Bowl).

  • <b>Size</b>: 5-7, 160
<br><b>Buzz</b>: If Natson were heavy enough to handle the pounding, his average of 10 yards per rush would make the Aggies' offense unstoppable. As it is, he ranked fourth on the team last year with 50 rushes (498 yards). Oddly enough, he delivered almost exactly the same production as a receiver (51 for 504). Natson also scored two touchdowns on punt returns while averaging 11.7 yards per try (10th in the nation). 7

    Eli Lucero / Associated Press

    7. JoJo Natson, WR, Utah State

    Size: 5-7, 160
    Buzz: If Natson were heavy enough to handle the pounding, his average of 10 yards per rush would make the Aggies' offense unstoppable. As it is, he ranked fourth on the team last year with 50 rushes (498 yards). Oddly enough, he delivered almost exactly the same production as a receiver (51 for 504). Natson also scored two touchdowns on punt returns while averaging 11.7 yards per try (10th in the nation).

  • <b>Size</b>: 5-9, 150
<br><b>Buzz</b>: Being 150 pounds hasn't kept Deayon from being around the football for the Broncos. He's intercepted six passes in each of the last two years, broken up nine more in each of the last two, and gives Boise State a strong presence as a punt returner as well. 6

    Rick Scuteri / Associated Press

    6. Donte Deayon, DB, Boise State

    Size: 5-9, 150
    Buzz: Being 150 pounds hasn't kept Deayon from being around the football for the Broncos. He's intercepted six passes in each of the last two years, broken up nine more in each of the last two, and gives Boise State a strong presence as a punt returner as well.

  • <b>Size</b>: 5-8, 172
<br><b>Buzz</b>: No small back in the SEC gets as many touches as Walton, so his toughness and ability to take a hit can't be questioned. He is a blur in the open field but, of course, isn't much of a tackle breaker. He led the Rebels in rushing with 586 yards on 106 carries, averaging 5.5 per rush. As Ole Miss' primary kickoff returner (21.3-yard average) and its top pass catcher among running backs (19 for 206), his value to the team has never been higher. 5

    Crystal LoGiudice / USA TODAY Sports

    5. Jaylen Walton, RB, Ole Miss

    Size: 5-8, 172
    Buzz: No small back in the SEC gets as many touches as Walton, so his toughness and ability to take a hit can't be questioned. He is a blur in the open field but, of course, isn't much of a tackle breaker. He led the Rebels in rushing with 586 yards on 106 carries, averaging 5.5 per rush. As Ole Miss' primary kickoff returner (21.3-yard average) and its top pass catcher among running backs (19 for 206), his value to the team has never been higher.

  • <b>Size</b>: 5-6, 168
<br><b>Buzz</b>: A preseason candidate for the Paul Hornung Award as the nation's most versatile player, Williams-Rhodes gives the Broncos a receiver (team-high 68 catches last year), a rusher (15 for 192 yards) and punt returner (he and Donte Deayon shared the role in 2014). <a href="http://www.idahopress.com/sports/boise/bsf-football/williams-rhodes-adds-size-for-bsu/article_56666df6-c7c2-11e4-910a-6ff8095f7d93.html" target="new">According to the Idaho Press-Tribune</a>, his weight slipped to 156 pounds by the end of last season, but he's put on 12 pounds since then in an effort to get bigger for 2015. 4

    Casey Sapio / USA TODAY Sports

    4. Shane Williams-Rhodes, WR, Boise State

    Size: 5-6, 168
    Buzz: A preseason candidate for the Paul Hornung Award as the nation's most versatile player, Williams-Rhodes gives the Broncos a receiver (team-high 68 catches last year), a rusher (15 for 192 yards) and punt returner (he and Donte Deayon shared the role in 2014). According to the Idaho Press-Tribune, his weight slipped to 156 pounds by the end of last season, but he's put on 12 pounds since then in an effort to get bigger for 2015.

  • <b>Size</b>: 5-8, 174
<br><b>Buzz</b>: Unlike some listed here, Shelton is far more than a speedy special-teams guy. He's made 24 career starts as a Big Ten cornerback in his first two years in the program. He had a stronger season as a freshman in 2013 than last year, and at his size, he can always expect to be tested against bigger receivers. Still, his performance in spring practice provided a more encouraging outlook for 2015. 3

    Jeff Hanisch

    3. Sojourn Shelton, DB, Wisconsin

    Size: 5-8, 174
    Buzz: Unlike some listed here, Shelton is far more than a speedy special-teams guy. He's made 24 career starts as a Big Ten cornerback in his first two years in the program. He had a stronger season as a freshman in 2013 than last year, and at his size, he can always expect to be tested against bigger receivers. Still, his performance in spring practice provided a more encouraging outlook for 2015.

  • <b>Size</b>: 5-6, 169
<br><b>Buzz</b>: The Red Raiders fan favorite exploded for 938 receiving yards last season on 67 catches. He ranked in the top 10 of the Big 12 conference in multiple categories, including catches, receiving yards, receiving touchdowns (seven), and all-purpose yards per game (124.1). He's also Tech's primary kickoff return man. Look for Grant to crack the 1,000-yard receiving mark this season. 2

    Gregory Bull / AP

    2. Jakeem Grant, WR, Texas Tech

    Size: 5-6, 169
    Buzz: The Red Raiders fan favorite exploded for 938 receiving yards last season on 67 catches. He ranked in the top 10 of the Big 12 conference in multiple categories, including catches, receiving yards, receiving touchdowns (seven), and all-purpose yards per game (124.1). He's also Tech's primary kickoff return man. Look for Grant to crack the 1,000-yard receiving mark this season.

  • <b>Size</b>: 5-7, 175
<br><b>Buzz</b>: Likely gets the nod as the best overall player listed here. He's a first-team All-Big Ten performer who tied for the league lead in interceptions last year (six), and returned two of those for touchdowns. His 15 pass breakups also tied for the Big Ten lead. Throw in averages of 11.1 yards on punt returns and 31.0 on kickoff returns, and Maryland simply doesn't have a more valuable player. 1

    Patrick Semansky / AP

    1. William Likely, DB, Maryland

    Size: 5-7, 175
    Buzz: Likely gets the nod as the best overall player listed here. He's a first-team All-Big Ten performer who tied for the league lead in interceptions last year (six), and returned two of those for touchdowns. His 15 pass breakups also tied for the Big Ten lead. Throw in averages of 11.1 yards on punt returns and 31.0 on kickoff returns, and Maryland simply doesn't have a more valuable player.