TAMPA (FOX 13) - Just one look at Alex Salvato often confuses his opponents. They assume he's the Bulls' kicker.
Indeed, Salvato is a critical part of the Bulls' kicking game, but you have to look for him in the middle of the masses. At just 165 pounds, Salvato is almost half the size of the of the players that surround him in the trenches.
He's the South Florida Bulls' long snapper for punts, field goals, and extra points.
"I do take pride in it really," said Salvato. "I would love to be bigger; I try, I try. As you said, there aren't 165-pound players in D1, it's nice."
When Salvato walked on the USF program, this freshman from Victory Christian Academy in Lakeland had a year to prove himself playing behind an upper-classman. Since taking over as a sophomore, Salvato hasn't missed a snap -- although Bulls head coach Willie Taggart admits he was a little nervous to put him in a game.
"Not a little, a lot," laughed Taggart. "'Cause he's so small and then you see all those big guys line up around him. You say, this is not going to look good. He's not the biggest, but he's tough. He's going to fight. He's going to fight. You might throw him around, but he's going to keep fighting you."
Come game time, his weight isn't issue. Since taking over the snapping duties, Salvato has been perfect, playing in all 12 games as sophomore. He's so accurate that he makes it easy for any holder to handle snaps -- even for a guy that's more use to holding a microphone; I can attest first-hand that he's good -- and he's earned more than playing time. At the end of camp this summer, Taggart handed Alex a full scholarship.
"Scholarship is just a bonus," said Salvato. "Being out here and playing with the guys. That's really what it's all about."
A warning to any opponents that want to try and bully him: "They don't really say too much because they know he's got a whole bunch of big guys standing next to him."
For a player that's use to looking at things upside down, things are looking up for Alex Salvato.