Scott Starks calls it "Little Man Syndrome." Starks should know.
"It's been like that my whole life; kind of like the underdog," the Jaguars' third-round draft choice said.
His smallish size has always left him somewhat overlooked. Despite a blockbuster scouting combine workout in which he ran faster and jumped higher than Carlos Rogers, the ninth pick of the draft and the second cornerback picked, Starks wasn't selected by the Jaguars until the second half of the third round.
Why? Size, of course, is the answer. Starks was officially measured at 5-8.4 inches and 172 pounds at the combine.
"That's what it is. That contributes to how I play. I call it the 'Little Man Syndrome,'" Starks said.
So he plays with a chip on his shoulder. He plays to prove he's not too small to play a big man's game.
"I think he's going to be a good player. He plays very fast. From what I've seen on tape, he plays bigger than he is," Jaguars defensive coordinator Mike Smith said of Starks, who is auditioning his talents in this week's passing camp, with the idea he might compete for the starting right cornerback job this summer.
"He's gotten his hands on a number of passes. He's a studious guy and he's not afraid to compete," Smith added.
Starks says that's what Wisconsin coach Barry Alvarez saw in his smallish cornerback. "Alvarez likes character and that's what I got. I'm going to go out and compete," Starks said.
Early in his career at Wisconsin, Starks was competing against himself. He was a starter in 48 of 51 games in college, but he lost confidence in himself after being kicked around by Charles Rogers in what was Starks' freshman year, and Starks slumped to the point of thinking about quitting football midway through his junior year.
He talked to his parents. He sought guidance from above. A light went on.
"That momentum carried into my senior year. I was in the right place at the right time and made some big plays," Starks said of the 2004 season.
The Jaguars will give him every chance to keep that momentum going into his rookie pro season. A team with postseason designs has a major opening at right cornerback. They need someone to step up and take the job. Starks is trying to do it.
"There's a big difference between college and pro. There's no comparison," he said. "It's a job and it really is a 24-hour job. When you're a rookie, you have to be in that playbook a lot."
Especially when you have "Little Man Syndrome."