His first catch as a Buckeye was a beautiful one-handed reception for a 33-yard gain in the very first game of the 2011 season. Even as a true freshman, Evan Spencer took his role seriously and wanted to make an impact immediately for Ohio State. Not only was Spencer a playmaker, he was consistent and reliable, which are two very important qualities.
He finished his career as a Buckeye with 52 receptions for 579 yards, seven touchdowns and one touchdown pass (he was Ohio State's fourth option quarterback in the 2014 Sugar Bowl, and threw a 13-yard TD pass to Michael Thomas). At 6'2 and 208 pounds, Spencer has the size to be a threat in the NFL. Pro ball isn't foreign to Spencer, whose father, Tim, is the running backs coach for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
When one of the highest regarded college football coaches stands behind a players character, the words very much matter. Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer recognized Spencer at the national championship celebration, "He's unbelievable. He's the MVP of our team. He's the leader of our team."
References don't really come better than that for NFL scouts.
- Hands: Spencer has a natural catching ability and has learned over time to focus on catching with your hands, not your body. He was able to make several good grabs during Ohio State's pro day and had notable one-handed catches during his time as a Buckeye.
- Speed: He has a rare burst of speed off the line as evidenced by his quick start to the 40-yard dash.
- Leadership: With more and more teams having to deal with off-field and/or offseason drama, they are looking for good rookies to come in and make a positive impact on their team. This is something Spencer excels at, being a true team player, stepping up as needed and constantly improving.
- Hands: Yes, this is both a strength and weakness for Spencer. Despite his ability to catch well thrown passes, he struggles with off-target passes which could pose a problem depending on which team he lands with. He would prosper under the Peyton Manning's of the league, but suffer under the Mark Sanchez's.
- Hype: He may not be as well known as Devin Smith or other receivers in the draft, and his absence from the NFL Combine didn't do much to help that, but there is enough good game film out there for scouts to take notice.
If Evan Spencer can land a team with a seasoned and consistent quarterback, he could be a stand-out receiver in a season or two. Not someone who is expected to make a starting line-up his first season out of college, he could certainly find himself in that position within a few years. He may not be flashy on the field but he is steady and reliable. If NFL teams have any concerns, Urban Meyer's words mentioned above should be just enough to ensure he is participating in some teams training camp this spring.