A 2010 JUCO All-American out of Hartnell Community College, Kiero Small quickly made a name for himself as a punishing run-blocker who effortlessly filled the void left by the departed Van Stumon. A fan-favorite for his hard-hitting play despite his smaller stature, Small was the lead blocker who helped the Razorback rushing offense run for over 4.5 yds/carry in conference play in 2011. After missing all but the first game of the 2012 season with an injury, Small returned in 2013 to play a larger role in the offense. After compiling one total rush and one total reception in the 2011 season, Small tallied 40 rushes for 151 yards and 3 TDs (along with 19 receptions for 128 yards and 1 TD) in his final season.
As a fullback, Small's most obvious strength is his run-blocking - in fact, Arkansas fans still reminisce about some of the brutal hits he's laid on opposing LBs and DBs.
Small (#36) greets 2 Aggies at the goal line to free Dennis Johnson for a TD
Same game, Small demolishes an A&M linebacker as Broderick Green scores the game-winning touchdown against the Aggies - as one of our members said in a previous post about Kiero, "I think he impregnated that LB’s girlfriend on that play."
Kiero relieves an Ole Miss Rebel of his helmet
Beyond that, Kiero is a hardworking and humble presence in the locker room, with strong leadership capabilities. In 2013, he represented the Hogs at SEC Media Days and was one of 4 players voted team captain. There's also something to be said for someone who will spend their summer running hills in the Federal Hill area of Baltimore:
Small's story of how he ended up in Arkansas by way of Maryland and a California JUCO is definitely unconventional - and a great read. It's obvious that this path contributed to the humility and maturity that he displays in the locker room, and he definitely fits the mold on the "Uncommon Man" that Bielema wants the Razorbacks to be known for.
And what does the Head Hog himself have to say about Kiero? As Jordan Conn from Grantland relates, Bielema's reaction to Kiero Small was "That is a g__d___ fullback!" Is there higher praise? I doubt it.
The biggest knock against Kiero is his small stature. Routinely referred to as being 5'10 in Arkansas press materials, he actually measured in at 5'8 at Arkansas' pro day. Arkansas fans have always had a soft spot for undersized players who used hard work to make up for their lack of size (see: Sam Olajabutu, Reggie Fish, etc.), but the NFL is less forgiving. He also timed in at 4.89 in the 40 yard dash at his pro day workout, meaning that he probably lacks the speed to get many, if any, looks on offense at the next level. In short, his run-blocking skills are going to have to carry him in the NFL, and there's such a narrow demand for that kind of niche player.,
Further complicating the issue is the NFL trend toward converting skill position players to fullback or eliminating the fullback altogether in favor of two tight end sets.
As much as Hog fans have loved having Kiero be a part of the program over the past three years, his ceiling in the draft is probably the 7th round. CBS Sports currently has him tabbed as the 10th best FB in the draft (408th best overall), with 5-9 ranked as 7th rounders to probably free agents. The good news is, even though he'll probably go undrafted, he's got a legitimate shot at being a priority free agent. He's already had workouts for the Baltimore Ravens, San Diego Chargers, Atlanta Falcons, and Cleveland Browns.
And if the NFL isn't in store for Kiero, it sounds like there's a place on the Razorbacks staff for him.