Respect comes grudgingly for 5-foot, 6-inch running backs.
Chip Grant, however, is different. Grant, a 150-pound senior from North Hollywood High, has rushed for 573 yards and 11 touchdowns--in only two games for the City Section school. He is the leading scorer in the Valley area, even though Southern Section teams have played four games.
"He is an exceptional athlete," Verdugo Hills Coach Bill Novikoff said.
Grant rushed for 320 yards and scored all five touchdowns in North Hollywood's 36-28 victory over Verdugo Hills last week.
Before the season, North Hollywood Coach Fred Grimes knew Grant could be a productive runner. He just didn't know how long he could last.
"As small as he is, we were worrying about the punishment he would take," Grimes said. "But it turns out he's been giving out more punishment than he's been getting."
Grant, who weighed 140 pounds last year, rushed for 455 yards in the first five games before an ankle injury sidelined him for the season. Grant increased his strength in the off-season, improving his bench press to 335 pounds, more than twice his body weight and the top lift on the team.
"If you look at him, he looks very strong," Grimes said. "He's built like a little gorilla."
Grant has accumulated impressive yardage against teams--Hollywood and Verdugo Hills--with unimpressive defenses. "He still needs the acid test," Novikoff said.
The test might come Friday against Sylmar, which has allowed 100 yards rushing in its first two games combined.
Grant is good enough to be considered a top running back, regardless of his size, Grimes said. "If coaches will overlook the fact that he's 5-6, I really feel he can play Division I."
With the kind of numbers he has been piling up, he might be granted that chance.