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Muhammad shines in victorys

Sept. 24, 1996

Muhammad shines in victory

Wide receiver Kalief Muhammad, an Alief senior, streaks through the Oregon State defense in Saturday's victory against the Beavers. The Bears are the only Texas Big 12 team to remain undefeated.

By Scott Dixon

Lariat Sports Staff

He's only 5-6, yet he can catch balls at heights that would make Michael Jordan gawk.

He weighs only 175 pounds, yet can bull over people like a runaway train going through a Ford Pinto.

When he runs, he makes Michael Johnson look halfway human.

He has hands that would make Michael Irvin nervous about his job in Dallas.

He has been the catalyst on a not-so-potent Baylor offense this year that has helped to lead the Bears to a 3-0 record and some respect from the polls, finally.

So why has a football player with all this talent and the team leader not been given any exposure outside of Waco? Because Kalief Muhammad plays for Baylor.

Imagine if he were playing for Tom Osborne up at Nebraska or Lou Holtz in South Bend. Muhammad would be compared to Lawrence Phillips and Rocket Ismail all the time.

Muhammad actually turned down offers from Colorado and Oklahoma to play for the Bears.

Thank goodness for great recruiting.

In Baylor's offensive coming-out party against Oregon State in the blistering heat on Saturday afternoon, Muhammad was the flame that started the fire (no offense to the fire outside the Auburn Tigers football stadium) in Baylor's 42-10 blowout of the lowly Beavers.

Muhammad scored the first touchdown of the game on a reverse sweep that gave Baylor a 7-0 lead. But it wasn't the first time that Muhammad started the game off big.

Muhammad has also had big starts in the other games against Louisiana Tech and Louisville.

Kalief from Alief came into this season with a lot of pressure on him and has lived up to his potential.

'I think Kalief is primed to have a very good (senior) year,' Baylor head coach Chuck Reedy said at the beginning of the season. 'There are a lot of things we can do with him and we will. He's made great, great strides as a receiver and he's also improved his blocking.'

He was moved from tailback to make room for Jerod Douglas and put at wide receiver, a position normally reserved for those players with a little more height.

'I'm enjoying it because it shows the scouts that I can catch the ball,' Muhammad said. 'I can do a lot of things that running backs normally don't get to do.'

Muhammad hasn't let his size hinder him at all this season or for that matter any other season. He is looking to become the first Baylor player to ever accumulate 1,000 yards receiving, 1,000 yards rushing, and 1,000 yards in returns in a career. With his 100 yard touchdown kickoff return at the end of the game against the Beavers, Muhammad broke the 1,000 yard mark for that stat.

'Size only matters if you make it matter,' Muhammad said.

And he is totally correct in that assumption.

I remember not to long ago another Baylor football player who was supposed to be too small to play professional football and Mike Singletary was arguably the best middle linebacker during the Reagan and Bush years.

Why is that any guy under 6-3, 230 pounds doesn't get any respect no matter how well he plays. Especially if he's playing for a school that doesn't get the same amount of credit as maybe a Penn State type university.

It's not only Muhammad that hasn't gotten any respect from opposing teams, it has been the whole Baylor squad.

In the game against Louisville, many people may have noticed Muhammad conversing with the opposing players at the end of his 87-yard touchdown reception.

'I don't normally talk trash,' Muhammad said. 'But when their coach and players are just considering us to be an average televised game, I'm going to voice my opinion.'

Muhammad also feels that this is the year that Baylor starts winning the games that they haven't normally won in the past. Could Baylor actually end its long, long losing streak against the dreaded Aggies?

'We're finally acting like a team,' Muhammad said. 'In the past, we've had a bunch of great athletes who were always worried about themselves, but this year there seems to be a real bond between us.'

Hopefully this will be the year that Baylor wins a couple of the big games, and also the year that the little man (notably #1 on the Bears roster) gets the respect that he deserves.

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