Believe it or not, there was once a time in which people weren’t sold on Ameer Abdullah as a next-level running back. As a 5-8, 179-pound prospect, Abdullah was considered too small to play tailback in college.

But the Homewood, Ala. native battled more adversity than his size.

According to high school football recruiting analyst Jimmy D. Smith, Abdullah dealt with his own coach’s attempts to block him from making a highlight reel to send to colleges.

He shared Abdullah’s improbable story today:

This is obviously just one side of the story, but it is interesting to note that Smith said the coach suggested helping out Christian kids instead. Abdullah is a devout Muslim and has been open in sharing his faith.

Still, even with the offers rolling in, big-time programs like Alabama and Auburn pegged Abdullah as a cornerback. He was recruited as a three-star athlete, but he was set on playing tailback. Bo Pelini gave him that chance at Nebraska and the rest is history.

The second-round tailback racked up 780 yards from scrimmage as a rookie in 2015. With the news that Joique Bell won’t be re-signed by the Detroit Lions, Abdullah could be in line to become the team’s new feature back next year.

It’s a good thing Smith didn’t “waste his time.”