A junior college All-American in 2010, Small played both fullback and linebacker for his Hartnell Community College football team. As a freshman in 2009, Small scored five rushing touchdowns and led the team in tackles with 109 stops en route to Hartnell claiming Coast Conference co-championship honors. In 2010, Small scored one rushing and one receiving touchdown and led the squad in tackles for the second straight season with 120 tackles, including 21 for loss. Small received All-America accolades from the California Community College Football Coaches Association in 2010 and All-California honors in 2009. He was named an All-Coast Conference performer at linebacker in both his seasons at Hartnell. Small's junior college head coach was Matt Collins, and his high school head coach was Donald Davis. As a high school senior at Cardinal Gibbons in 2006, Small earned second-team All-State accolades from the Maryland Football Coaches Association. Small was also recruited by Cal and Oregon State.