Chase Kyser wasn’t necessarily high on Eastern New Mexico University football coach Mark Ribaudo’s radar screen two years ago. He just kept hearing about the then-Roswell Goddard senior.
Eventually, Ribaudo went to see him play and came away impressed.
“I just thought he was a different kind of player,” Ribaudo said of the 5-foot-6 running back-cornerback for the Rockets, Class 4A state champions that year. “I watched him in some playoff games. The more I talked to coaches, the more I liked him.”
Ribaudo thought Kyser could fit in as a slot receiver, and he’s done that. He’s gone from Goddard’s pound-it-out, three-yards-and-a-cloud-of-dust style to ENMU’s wide-open spread attack.
Through three games, the 165-pounder is third on the team with 13 receptions, including two for touchdowns. He also plays on virtually all of ENMU’s special teams, including holding the ball for placekicker Taylor Cannon.
Kyser splits time at the slot position with junior Arvin Jackson, but because of his special teams responsibilities it actually helps him.
“I think it’s great,” Kyser said. “AJ’s a great athlete, and he does a great job.”
The Greyhounds (1-2) were idle this weekend. They open Lone Star Conference North play on Saturday against Texas A&M-Commerce at Greyhound Stadium.
Ribaudo compares Kyser to former Texas Tech and current New England Patriots standout Wes Welker, an undersized player who maximizes his ability.
“That’s a compliment to me,” Kyser said. “I admire Wes Welker because he’s small and he just gets the job done.”
His size kept him from getting many looks coming out of high school, and Kyser acknowledges that it spurs him.
“It motivates me, pushes me, drives me,” he said. “I really wanted to play (in college), but all my life I’ve been told all my life I was too small.
“It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog.”
ENMU receivers coach Josh Faith said Kyser has easily made the adjustment from high school running back, adding that he’s become one of the team’s better blocking receivers as well.
“He’s got the heart of a lion,” Faith said. “Really, all in all, he’s the type of player that you want. He’s just a good young man.”
Faith, the son of former Lovington coach “Speedy” Faith, said he met Kyser when the latter was in high school attending summer football camps of Chicago Bears star and Lovington native Brian Urlacher. Kyser didn’t make much of an impression on him until later, Faith said.
“I watched his high school team play and he destroyed (rival) Roswell High,” Faith said. “He’s not the fastest guy, so he works on his speed. He knows he’s not the strongest guy, but he’s just gotten stronger since he’s been here.”