In his three seasons on Georgetown's football team, defensive lineman Brandon Small has largely played a supporting role. He had a modest 18 tackles last season and had five sacks during the past two seasons. But as the senior captain enters his final college season, Small hopes to become one of the Hoyas' leading men, just as he has in the school's arts community.
Small is a member of Georgetown's Black Theatre Ensemble and has played leading roles in two of its plays. He has also performed on campus in Urban Fare, a showcase of campus talent, and the DC A Cappella Festival. Much like football, acting and performing have come easy for him.
"It came pretty natural," Small said. "I've always been a creative guy, so I wasn't that surprised. I was an only child. I never had anything to do but play by myself."
Small got involved in the Black Theatre Ensemble two years ago at the urging of one of his high school friends who also attends Georgetown. In the ensemble's production of August Wilson's Pulitzer Prize-winning play "The Piano Lesson," Small played Doaker Charles, the uncle in possession of a precious heirloom -- a piano carved with images of his family's African ancestors.
In the ensemble's production of George C. Wolfe's play "The Colored Museum," Small played the role of a Vietnam War veteran losing his grip on reality. In its review of that play, the Hoya, one of Georgetown's student newspapers, wrote that Small's monologue "was simultaneously hysterical and haunting."
"He's a talented guy on and off the field, in and out of the classroom," Georgetown Coach Bob Benson said. "He's got a great sense of humor, and he's a fine actor."
Small, who is 6 feet 3 and 227 pounds, didn't start playing football until his sophomore season at Northwestern High School in Hyattsville. He decided to try out for football because most of his friends were playing the sport, and because he figured it would help him stay in shape for basketball. But by the beginning of his senior season, Small was drawing the attention of college football recruiters.
"I saw other players from my high school going to colleges to play football, and nobody from the basketball team was going anywhere," Small said. "It was kind of common sense."
Small, a marketing major, played in eight games as a freshman at Georgetown in 2001 and was a starting defensive end in each of the past two seasons. This season, he'll move to nose guard, with sophomore Alex Buzbee and Michael Ononibaku starting at ends.
"Since my freshman year, I've always been in and out and in and out" on the defensive line, Small said. "I'm comfortable staying inside."
Small already has proved he's comfortable in just about every setting.