Just one player comes to mind when Valley Center running back Stanton Upson begins thinking of the professional player he sees in himself.
"It's definitely [San Diego Chargers running back] Darren Sproles," Upson said. "The little one that's looked past."
Standing just 5-foot-9 and weighing 170 pounds has Upson in the same mold as the Chargers' diminutive sparkplug, but Upson sees some of Sproles' game in his own.
"I'm a smaller speed running back," Upson said. "I'm trying to gain a little weight to get up to 180 [pounds] for the beginning of the season."
But Upson sees a toughness that he thinks college teams have looked past.
"I'm hoping colleges don't look at (my size) and look past that. Size shouldn't matter how good someone is," Upson said.
Because of his weight, Upson hasn't been getting a lot of attention at the next level despite leading his team to a Division IV title played at Qualcomm Stadium, the same stage Sproles uses to work his magic.
"It was fun, it's always fun when you get a CIF Championship," Upson said, who finished the game with 160 yards on 26 carries. "It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience that I'm glad I got to share with my friends."
Upson received a second life-altering event last week, when the Jaguars star received his first full-ride offer from the Air Force Academy.
"At first I was in shock. I mean I was talking to their coaches about going out to their camp but that was it," Upson said. "It was a big letter looking thing and it even looked like a camp packet, but I started reading it and I figured out what it really was.
"I was just out of breath it's really exciting for me."
In his junior season, Upson rushed for 1,587 yards on 266 carries, good for a six-yard average. He scored 15 touchdowns on the season but is looking at a bigger role in his final season with Valley Center, who lost standout quarterback Tyler Bernard to graduation.
"Hopefully we can do it again this year, we've got some big holes to fill but we're looking good so far," Upson said.
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