Ferentz on Spears

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Melvin Spears has played football since kindergarten. He’s been a linebacker 99.9 percent of his time in the game.

There was a short stint at defensive end when he was in little league in grade school, but it’s been linebacker, middle linebacker in particular, from day 1.

That’s exactly what the University of Iowa asked him to do for the next stage of his career.

Spears, a 6-foot-2, 230-pounder, accepted a scholarship offer to the University of Iowa last week. The Allen (Texas) High School standout is Iowa’s 15th commitment. The Hawkeyes’ 2011 recruiting class will likely end up in the neighborhood of 23 to 25 when it signs in February.

Spears had offers from Minnesota, North Texas and Arkansas State.

Spears “plays” a solid sideline-to-sideline game. That caught Iowa coaches’ attention.

“When he walks in the room you know it,” Allen defensive coordinator Cory Cain told HawkeyeReport.com. “He’s 6-foot-2 and 230 pounds. He is like he is chiseled out of stone. He is the strongest player, pound for pound, in our program. He is all linebacker and plays with a linebacker mentality. He is a downhill plugger, but also athletic enough to get sideline to sideline.”

Spears is at the magic height, 6-2, that could allow him to grow into a D-lineman. But that’s not in the plans right now.

“The linebacker position just kind of comes to me,” Spears said. “But I know there’s still a lot for me to learn. They’re looking at me as an inside linebacker. They’ve watched film and they like the way I play.”

Iowa was Spears’ first offer.

“I thought it was pretty serious and I should look into it,” Spears said. “I visited for the Penn State game and loved everything about it. The stripes [in Kinnick Stadium, that night] were pretty cool. I’ve never seen that.”

Links -- Did you know Spears' nickname is "Bud." Here's that story from the Dallas Morning News.

Three most interesting bio items -- 1) member of the National Honor Society, graduating with a 3.50 GPA. 2) Finished with 250 tackles (159 solo), 16 tackles for loss, seven sacks, three interceptions and five forced fumbles during his three-year varsity career. 3) Helped team post a 35-5 record, which included an 18-1 district mark, and a 2008 state championship.

Ferentz on -- Coach Kirk Ferentz spoke on the three linebackers in this recruiting class in a general manner.

"We'll wait and see," Ferentz said. "We'll get them on campus and last year is about as high a number of first-year players that we have had that have played and we will probably continue on in that vein. It has continued to work well for us so realistically, maybe one or two will play but the rest will redshirt. But, feel real good about those guys, building a good nucleus there.

"Been hit pretty hard the last two years at that position and certainly our injuries last year, between that and the running back position, really affected our team and affected our special teams as well."

Spears also received a good review in this Dallas Morning News post on the area's "all prospect team."

"Spears is a big, big guy for a high school linebacker. He's bigger than his listed size (6-2, 225), meaning he's already got the body of a collegiate middle linebacker."

Projection is fun -- Somewhere in the linebacker mix. Possible D-end, but I think this class has that covered with Raymon and McMinn (for now).

Spears' body type also lends itself to fullback.

He's been a linebacker his entire football life, so that's what he knows and that's probably what's in his heart.

He could see time on special teams next season. That need has been identified throughout this series (and let's face it, Iowa special teams struggled for consistency last season).

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