Reggie Spearman kept the recruiting world guessing right up until the last second.
The night before the national signing period started Feb. 6, Spearman gathered with 11 of his Chicago Simeon High School teammates for commitment announcements. Then, the 6-2, 219-pound linebacker pulled out a Syracuse baseball cap.
"Naw, I'm going to Iowa," said Spearman, who previously orally committed to Illinois in August. "It definitely was the people at Iowa, the players. I know a lot of players on the team. Everything just seemed to fit for me at Iowa."
And, if you're an Iowa fan, you like that the three-star linebacker has a an Iowa cap on his head and you also like where his head is at.
"I chose Iowa because we are going to win a national championship," Spearman said.
Spearman chose the Hawkeyes over his other finalists Illinois and Syracuse. He had been committed to the Illini since the summer, but an official visit to Iowa City in November and an unofficial visit just two weekends ago convinced Spearman he wanted to be a Hawkeye.
Through social media, mostly Twitter, Spearman heard from fellow Iowa signees John Kenny, Colin Goebel and Malik Rucker leading up to his decision. He also bonded with his classmates during his unofficial visits to Iowa City.
"It will be nice getting around those guys again," Spearman said. "Down at the school it is just a big family and I feel like they are ready to win. I feel that I can't go wrong with that program at this point."
Syracuse came on strong at the end, especially when the school offered Spearman and teammate Kendall Moore in mid-January. They visited Syracuse together. Moore did put on and keep on a Syracuse cap during the announcement.
Getting Spearman on campus with other recruits seemed to leave an impression.
"The atmosphere was crazy," Spearman told Rivals.com. "Maurice Fleming used to play DB for Curry and he is a friend of mine so I got to chill with him a lot. He likes the coaching staff, the program and just likes being down there."
Fleming ended up being Spearman's player-host during the official visit. He also spent time with each of the Iowa coaches, especially linebackers coach LeVar Woods.
"We had some good talks," Spearman said. "They told me I am going to have an opportunity and that's all I'm looking for in a school."
Scouting snippet (from ESPN.com)
Spearman uses his playing speed and strength to effectively stop the run and rush the passer. Has the size and athleticism for the inside linebacker position at the major level of competition. His frame appears capable of supporting additional bulk over time. This prospect is a strong wrap tackler who doesn't allows leaky yards after contact; his athleticism and toughness should prove very beneficial as a special team's player. Plays form a variety of alignments: two and three point stance both on and off the line of scrimmage; offers game plan flexibility as an edge and inside pass rusher, showing quick hands with a burst to the quarterback. Although experience as a coverage defender will need attention, his flexibility, agility and balance should prove beneficial. Uses his initial quickness to get off the mark and attack the run downhill; demonstrates the ability to take on and defeat blockers at the point of attack; doesn't stay blocked, showing good shiver and shed ability; moves through traffic and avoids trash very well; can turn and change direction demonstrating excellent sideline to sideline range. Is quick off the mark as an edge rusher; can beat the tackle and squeeze the pocket; demonstrates quick arm over and under moves with a burst to the ball; displays very good jump timing when stalemated. This guy is a tough, competitor with the instincts and nose for the football that continually put him in position to make big plays. Spearman could earn early situational playing time at the BCS level of play if a red shirt year is not deemed necessary.
What Iowa said . . .
Recruiting coordinator Eric Johnson: “He was definitely a need for us. We went through the entire evaluation process with and felt very strongly about. We got him on campus and had a lot of help from other recruits. Malik did a great job with him. John Kenny did a great job with him. He went through his process, did a thorough investigation of all the schools he was interested in and we were fortunate enough to get him." He's a big body at 219 already. . . . "He's a young kid, too. He's only 16-years-old right now. He's got a lot of growth and will be able to mature a lot more from a physical standpoint."
What Rivals.com said . . .
Midwest recruiting analyst Josh Helmholdt: In Spearman, Iowa adds an athletic linebacker to their front seven. The 6-foot-2, 219-pounder has shown the ability to rush the passer and play in pass coverage throughout his high school career and at several off-season camps and combines. He is ranked as the No. 31 outside linebacker nationally and the No. 15 prospect in the state of Illinois for the 2013 class.
What I think (FWIW, obviously) . . .
Check this link and watch Spearman in rush drills. Sure, it's just drills in shirts and shorts, but he has a natural feel for it and a first step that left all comers in the dust, even the long-armed players he went against. Extremely quick feet and had a natural feel for that angle a pass rusher needs to take to win leverage on an offensive lineman. No, I'm not already advocating for a switch to D-end. If that happens, it would come from weightroom growth, which, at 16, could obviously happen. Whatever position, Spearman is the type of athlete you want playing defense for you.