Wide receiver Evan Spencer understands his versatility and selfless play will be an important part of his transition into the NFL.
Evan Spencer, the former Ohio State wide receiver coming off a National Championship victory, knows about fitting into a team.
His stats from last year – 15 catches for 149 yards and three touchdowns – are hardly noteworthy, and
Check out these photos of Ohio State wide receiver Evan Spencer, the 187th pick in the 2015 NFL Draft.
yet they define his style of play, willing to accept any role, ready to let others take the lead if the situation calls for it.
That attitude and dedication, the willingness to block as much as make plays with the football, prompted Buckeyes head football coach Urban Meyer to call him the "MVP of our team," just days after Spencer hauled in a game-clinching onside kick.
Those stats – and his selfless play – are not a knock on his ability. They're more of an indication about how he'll transition onto an NFL team, jumping from a big-fish-in-small pond mentality into the exact opposite with the Redskins.
"I say maybe it was a little bit frustrating at first, but once we all kind of got together as a team and kind of got rolling and we all saw what we could do, we all saw the great things that we could accomplish," Spencer said about finding a place on a very talented Buckeyes team. "It was really easy get on board and just to do whatever I could to play my part. Yeah we had a lot of weapons and yeah we a lot of people to get the ball to, but at the end of the day we knew we had to do our parts in order to win football games. And I was one of those key parts and I just tried to do everything I could."
That mindset should serve him particularly well as he begins jockeying for a role behind veteran receivers like DeSean Jackson, Pierre Garçon and Andre Roberts.
Something that makes Spencer stand out – besides his physicality and toughness – is his play on special teams, a role that most rookies use as the platform to prove those qualities and make coaches turn their heads.
According to head coach Jay Gruden, his head has already turned for Spencer.
"Excellent special team player – excellent, excellent, excellent – and he's going to make that room better," Gruden said.
"I think these are good fits for us," Gruden said referring to the late-round draft picks. "They're going to
come in and they know on Day 1 and know that [it is] 'Special teams one, position number two,' that's the way you crack into the lineup. That's the way you crack into the NFL is by dominating special teams, making your mark in Coach [Ben] Kotwica's room, and then when your opportunity is called out there at your position, you make the most of it."
Gruden's order of emphasis will be something Spencer -- as he experienced in Columbus -- is accustomed to.
"I feel like I'm one of the tougher receivers out there that are willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done and win football games," Spencer said. "Whatever that entails, that's what I'm willing to do, and I think that's one thing that I think probably appealed very well."
As he prepares for the other aspects of the league, Spencer can rely on his father, Tim, a coach with the Buccaneers. He can also be thankful that his brother, Cole, just happens to work for the Redskins as a team scout. He'll never be too far away from family.
"We let Cole make the initial phone call and that's a big deal for both of them," Gruden said. "And Evan earned it, you know?"
"I may have an inside connect there," Spencer said jokingly. "I picked up the phone and heard Cole's voice…I didn't know how to react and I didn't even know what I said, honestly, but I probably started freaking out."