High School Sports

At 4-foot-5 and 95 pounds, he stands tall among his high school football teammates

American Heritage's 4-foot-5, 95-pound Running Back Adam Reed

Reed, a 17-year old senior, is the fifth-string running back for the nationally-ranked Patriots. But he's become one of the stars, a player fans want to take photos with because of his size. Sept. 1, 2015. Vide by Manny Navarro / Miami Herald Staf
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Reed, a 17-year old senior, is the fifth-string running back for the nationally-ranked Patriots. But he's become one of the stars, a player fans want to take photos with because of his size. Sept. 1, 2015. Vide by Manny Navarro / Miami Herald Staf

Adam Reed just wants to be one of the guys on Plantation American Heritage’s nationally ranked football team.

If you watched what happened after last Saturday’s 36-8 romp over Stephenson (Ga.) at the Battle of the Borders Classic in Atlanta, the Patriots’ 4-5, 95-pound, fifth-string running back seems to be fitting in just fine. He had about as many fans wanting to snap pictures with him as his highly recruited teammates.

“I'm a little undersized,” the 17-year-old senior said Tuesday after practice. “But it’s, whatever. I don’t let my size stop me from doing anything.”

It’s one thing to be undersized and playing in a local recreational league or on the junior varsity squad. It’s an entirely different thing to run with the varsity team of the school’s back-to-back Class 5A state championship squad and earn the respect of teammates and coaches.

Reed has. After playing on the middle school and junior varsity teams at Heritage since the sixth grade, Reed began his senior year last month ineligible for the JV squad because of his age and year in school. If he was going to play football, he had to make the varsity team.

And he did, impressing coach Mike Rumph by attending every offseason meeting, workout and practice alongside the biggest player on the team (6-6, 338-pound junior All-American offensive lineman Tedarrell Slaton) and the second-smallest (5-8, 146-pound junior receiver Jason Heinstkill).

“It’s special to see somebody that diminutive, being dealt a tough hand, coming out here and working just like any other person,” said Patrick Surtain, Heritage’s defensive coordinator and a former Dolphins Pro Bowl cornerback. “We don’t even look at Adam like that because he’s Adam to us, because he puts in the work like everybody else. He doesn’t want anything handed to him. He wants to earn it. And so far he has. It’s good to have somebody like that on your team.”

Reed, a 17-year old senior, is the fifth-string running back for the nationally-ranked Patriots. But he's become one of the stars, a player fans want to take photos with because of his size. Sept. 1, 2015. Vide by Manny Navarro / Miami Herald Staf

Reed, who played on the junior varsity at Heritage alongside Surtain’s son Patrick Jr., a 6-1, 175-pound sophomore, occasionally got into games on the JV and even scored “a handful of touchdowns.”

But he has yet to get in to either of the varsity games this season (Heritage opened with a 19-7 win over USA Today preseason No. 2 Bradenton IMG Academy on Aug. 22) and probably won’t get into Saturday night’s showdown with DeMatha Catholic (Maryland). But Rumph said he’s planning to get Reed into a game as soon as he can, either on kickoff returns or when the schedule gets a little less daunting later in the season.

“Whether or not he gets playing time as a senior, it remains a mystery,” Rumph said. “But I have some plans and ideas to get him involved because he sacrificed the way everybody else sacrificed.”

Said Reed’s mother, Lisa: “Coach Rumph told me they were not going to put Adam in a situation they didn’t think he could handle, and as a mother I said that’s all I can ever ask.”

Still, his teammates and coaches are looking forward to seeing him get on the field in a game.

Although there is no official record as to who the shortest player is to get into a game, two years ago, Rice’s Jayson Carter, a 4-9, 135-pound, walk-on running back, entered late in the fourth quarter of a 45-7 blowout win over UTEP.

Locally, Reed could become the shortest high school player to ever get into a varsity football game.

“I’m not going to lie; when I first saw him it was kind of shocking,” said junior tailback Kyshaun Bryan, the Patriots’ leading rusher last season. “Now that I got to know him, he’s pretty cool. He does everything we do and has an even bigger heart. His size doesn’t matter. He’s like one of us.”

Reed, adopted two days after he was born, has been to many endocrinologists and other doctors in South Florida, but hasn’t found an explanation for his diminutive stature.

“Unofficially, the best answer we’ve gotten is his body doesn’t know what to do with growth hormone,” said Reed’s mother, a kindergarten teacher at Manatee Bay Elementary in Weston.

“We honestly know nothing about Adam’s parents or medical history. But I’m a firm believer that I was meant to be his mom. As soon as I had him in my arms I fell in love with him.

“It hasn’t been all peachy keen. He’s cried, been upset about his height. But I said to him, ‘This is just the way you are, and this is just part of life.’ Thank God you can walk, run and scream and play. When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade out of it.”

Reed hopes to make much more of his life and opportunity this season.

“I want to win a championship ring,” he said, “and just play my role. Whatever it is.”

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