116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
MOUNT VERNON — Some high school teammates didn’t believe in him. He even doubted himself briefly.
Daniel Abesames-Hammer questioned whether he would get a chance to continue his football career as a 5-foot-1, 125-pound skill player, but his goal started to come into focus when University of Puget Sound (Wash.) showed interest.
“I got my first (NCAA Division)-III offer and that opened my mind and eyes to having the opportunity to play college football,” Abesames-Hammer said. “I’ve had supporters that out-weighed the haters. They really pushed me to better myself and my craft just so I can use my height as an advantage instead of a weakness.”
Cornell College was the second of three schools to provide him a chance and Abesames-Hammer capitalized on it, trading the hustle of San Francisco for small-town life. The sophomore running back turned wide receiver back to ball carrier has developed into a contributor for the Rams in a sport that places a premium on size and strength.
“Cornell provided more of an opportunity,” said Abesames-Hammer, who also received an offer to play by University of La Verne (Calif). “They proved they really wanted me there.
“I didn’t fit in at the start. Everyone is family now, even people I never expected I would be friends with.”
Abesames-Hammer said he has always been the smaller guy and different than his football colleagues. He decided to focus on his own strengths instead of how they vary from others. His heart and desire complemented the characteristics that came with his smaller frame.
“I don’t find my height and weight to be detrimental,” Abesames-Hammer said. “I try to use it to the best of my ability. Just being the quickest and most agile on the field, making people miss.
“I use being short as a plus instead of a negative. It does have its negatives. It is hard to block somebody at 125 pounds, which I’m working on that. I try to find the positives in it.”
One of his staunchest supporters was his mom. It took effort and negotiating to persuade her to let him play, but the tough-minded matriarch has been a devoted fan.
“My mom was a real big supporter,” Abesames-Hammer said. “She’s short, too. She understands.
“She teases me and makes fun of me but she knows I make my quickness and small stature as an advantage.”
Jefferson Coach Sergio Portela Jr. had an impact on Abesames-Hammer. He was tough on him. Abesames-Hammer said his coach recognized his potential and pushed him to be his best.
“He helped me develop my skills,” Abesames-Hammer said. “He taught me a lot of things I still use to this day. He was a really good influence and knew how to use my size.”
Abesames-Hammer earned touches in five of seven games this season. He averages 4.2 yards per touch, amassing 105 total offensive yards on 24 rushes and one reception. Abesames-Hammer actually posted a team-high 58 rushing yards against University of Chicago, which is third in the Midwest Conference standings.
The effort was highlighted by a 32-yard run where he slipped by a couple tacklers. He showed some power, remaining on his feet after contact.
“The taller linemen and linebackers don’t have a good opportunity to tackle me easily just because of how low I am,” Abesames-Hammer said. “It was proven by my run against Chicago when their 6-foot-6 safety tried to tackle me. He was trying to tackle me too high and we saw how that went.”
The Rams (2-5, 2-4 MWC) host Illinois College (2-5, 2-4) Saturday at Van Metre Field of Ash Park. Abesames-Hammer will likely get touches as the smallest guy on the field. He has worked hard to get to this point and has advice for anyone told they are too small, too slow, too weak or just not capable to achieve their goal.
“Don’t try to be someone else,” Abesames-Hammer said. “Take pride in what you have and who you are. Build your craft. Just be you.”