Attitude more important than altitude for high school football player

A small player with a big heart 02:32

PLANTATION, Fla. -- With all the great kids at American Heritage High School in Plantation, Florida, the one student who stands above the others -- is the one who stands below them.

Adam Reed, a 17-year-old senior, is just 4-foot, 5-inches tall. He's small because his body can't process growth hormones.

But in spite of that -- or maybe because of that -- Adam has taken on a most unlikely role here. He is the football running back.

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Adam Reed, 17. CBS News

"It's crazy but it's true," he said.

What made him think he could do it?

"Nothing ever told me I couldn't," Adam says.

Adam weighs in at about 100 pounds with his helmet on. Most of the other guys are at least two times his size. And yet each and every one of them looks up to Adam.

"He blows away your initial expectations," said one player.

"He works harder than a lot of people," another added.

"You ever heard of the little dog with the big dog heart? Like a little Chihuahua? That's how he is. He doesn't care who's bigger than him, he'll still do it," added yet another.

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Adam Reed, 17, working out with his high school football coach. CBS News

Adam works out every day like he's getting ready for the pro bowl -- even though when he joined varsity he knew he might never get in a single game. He is fourth string, but completely unfazed by it.

"Just care for what you do and love what you do and the outcome will be remarkable," he said.

Which leads to ... remarkable. Last week, with 20 seconds to go in the game -- and Heritage well ahead -- Coach Mike Rumph gave the nod to no. 2 who is Adam Reed.

Coach told Adam to take a dive before he got tackled -- and Adam completely ignored him.

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Adam Reed, 17, shaking hands with a fellow player. CBS News

"I think his idea changed when the ball got in his hands. He's trying to run through tackles and get to the end zone," Coach Rumph said.

Coach Rumph says he wasn't surprised. Adam picked up 5 yards on the play. Not quite the touchdown he was hoping for, but still everything he ever dreamed of.

"I don't feel like I'm out of the ordinary," he said. "I just feel like I'm part of the team. And that's how everyone should feel."

Who needs altitude when you've got his kind of attitude.

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  • Steve Hartman
    Steve Hartman

    Steve Hartman has been a CBS News correspondent since 1998, having served as a part-time correspondent for the previous two years.