GENERALLY, when people see Ryan Switzer in street clothes for the first time, they all have the same reaction.
"Gee, I didn't know he was that small,'' is the way most reactions go.
But make no mistake about Switzer, the Kennedy Award winning running back from George Washington who last week announced he would be accepting a football scholarship at North Carolina. He may only stand 5-foot-10 and weigh 172 pounds, but he's plenty tough.
Switzer, in fact, made it through his entire junior season without missing any appreciable playing time despite the fact he played virtually the entire game - offense (tailback), defense (secondary), and served as both punter and kickoff specialist while returning punts and kickoffs.
Playing 14 games against the toughest competition the state has to offer at the Class AAA level, Switzer carried the ball 298 times as GW's chief offensive weapon. Only once did he attempt fewer than 16 rushing plays in a game - that being nine in a 42-7 first-round playoff win against Spring Valley.
So don't be so quick to label Switzer as an injury waiting to happen - either during his senior season with the Patriots or during his collegiate career at Chapel Hill.
"I try to do a good job preparing my body,'' Switzer said recently. "Whether I'm hurt or not is not up to me. I'm OK with that. All I can do is prepare myself well, and that leads to less big hits. I don't think I've ever taken a real big shot. I'm blessed with vision and all those things that help with that. It's not up to me, but I'm ready for it.''
Seeing Danny Manning walk the sideline at the NCAA men's championship Monday as an assistant coach for Kansas brought to mind the last time I saw Manning in the title game - and one of my favorite quotes that came following the game.
Manning and Kansas, of course, knocked off favored Oklahoma for the 1988 NCAA championship that night even though the Sooners had beaten the Jayhawks twice during the regular season.
Moments after the game, one bold reporter approached Sooners coach Billy Tubbs, one of the more animated and tightly-wound coaches of his day, and made the mistake of asking Tubbs about his emotions.