IT'S TAKEN far too long, but Berkeley High senior tailback Rickey Galvin is finally gaining the respect and attention from college recruiters that he deserves.

That Galvin is the East Bay's best high school running back is pretty much indisputable at this point. He ran for more than 200 yards in each of his first six games and is the region's rushing leader despite missing one game with an ankle injury.

He has 1,539 yards on 151 carries in seven games — a 10.2 average per carry — and often plays three quarters or less because the 8-0 Yellowjackets are on the front end of a lopsided score. He's scored 19 touchdowns, which leads the East Bay.

Some of the big numbers have been accomplished against spotty competition in the Alameda Contra Costa Athletic League, but Galvin also had 233 yards against Pittsburg and 257 more against a solid Alameda team.

So why haven't the colleges swarmed to his door? Well, that's pretty easy to figure out. It's about those other numbers: 5-foot-7, 165 pounds.

"Pretty much it's always going to be about the size," said Galvin after running for 171 yards and three TDs in a 50-0 romp over rival El Cerrito on Friday. "(Recruiters) look at my size, and they just cover me up, they overlook me. I have to work harder just to get noticed. Good thing I don't have any problem working hard. I just do what I have to do."

Six straight 200-yard games may have done the job. Suddenly, people are figuring out Galvin isn't really a "jitterbug," as he is often labeled in scouting assessments. By contrast, he's a runner who expertly follows blocks, spots holes in a split-second and explodes through them before opposing defenses have time to react.

In short, he has excellent football instincts in addition to 4.5 40 speed, instincts that his coach, Alonzo Carter, believe will serve him well wherever he winds up at the next level.

Galvin initially hoped that would be Cal, but the Bears' interest has been tepid at best until recently. As a result, other schools have stepped in. Galvin has made an official visit to Washington State, has another planned to San Diego State on Halloween weekend and one more to Fresno State in November.

Cal has been sniffing around more often of late, as has UCLA. But as of this past weekend, Galvin still had only one offer from the Pac-10 — WSU — as well as offers from San Diego State and Utah State. Judging by his comments, other interested schools may have to play catch-up with the Cougars.

"Washington State is a great school," he said. "It's high on my list, and I'm really interested in them. I have a good connection with the coaches — they treat me like I've already committed and I'm playing on the team."

Carter likens Galvin to other smallish running backs such as Darren Sproles, who has gone on to distinguish himself in the NFL.

"He's in that mold," Carter said. "I told people he can bench-press 335 pounds and squat 500 and they were saying, 'There ain't no way.' But one day, some coaches came to visit and they actually saw him do it. They were like, 'Wow.'"‰"

Adding to Galvin's considerable abilities as a runner are his character and determination, Carter said.

"Rickey is one of our team leaders, a quiet, a no-nonsense kid," he said. "He's a wonderful kid to coach. He just loves playing, and it was tough keeping him out last week because he was hurt. He's still hurt, but 80 percent of Rickey is better than most guys at 100 percent. I'm glad he's on my side."

Galvin suffered a high ankle sprain against De Anza on Oct. 9, sat out against Richmond on Oct. 17 and put in hours of work in the swimming pool to get ready for the El Cerrito game. He tweaked the ankle in the third quarter and came out early with Berkeley comfortably ahead.

Galvin's yardage totals may suffer a bit in the coming weeks because Carter wants to make sure his star tailback is 100 percent for the North Coast Section Division I playoffs.

What's more, Carter believes he doesn't have to showcase Galvin anymore for recruiters. If they don't get it by now, they never will.

"Rickey's not even tripping on the recruiting thing," he said. "He just wants to go to a college that fits him."

Just because he's a small guy, though, doesn't mean he has to pick a small school. Galvin seems destined for big things wherever he winds up.

Contact Carl Steward at csteward@bayareanewsgroup.com.