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No. 32 -- DE Melvin Spears
DEFENSIVE END MELVIN SPEARS
Arrival: The 6-2, 255-pounder was recruited as a linebacker out of Allen (Texas) High School. He was switched to DE with his first month and a half on campus.
In April, Spears, who arrived at Iowa weighing 224, played second-team defensive end in the spring scrimmage, behind senior Steve Bigach. Bigach might end up inside at tackle before it's all said and done, but Spears likely sticks at end.
Spears got some notice during D-line coach Reese Morgan's news conference this spring. "Bud Spears, Melvin Spears, has gotten better each and every day," Morgan said. "He's a guy you feel pretty good about."
This might not mean anything, but could might speak to Spears' physical development. During weight sessions in summer conditioning, Spears has been paired with center James Ferentz, a fifth-year senior. What that might tell us is that Ferentz and Spears lift a similar amount of weight. Strength and conditioning coordinator Chris Doyle probably wants these guys lifting and not stacking weights.
Just a little tidbit, but there's not a lot to go on with a redshirt freshman.
2012 Takeoff: So why is Spears on this list?
The available bodies at defensive end are few. Dominic Alvis will assume one of the spots when his knee rehab wraps up any day now. So, he's one. Something happened during the course of spring practice that pushed senior Joe Gaglione from No. 2 tackle to No. 1 end and vice versa for redshirt freshman Dean Tsopanides. Gaglione's resume at DE doesn't extend much beyond practice reps, but he earned the spot in spring.
The list at No. 3 DE might start with Bigach. Spears and fellow redshirt freshman Riley McMinn also will be on the list, along with sophomore Mike Hardy. It remains to be seen if true freshman Faith Ekakitie is ready.
Here's Morgan on Ekakitie and true freshman DT Jaleel Johnson:
“Certainly those two young men would have physical ability to do that [play as true freshmen], possibly. It remains to be seen, it really does. We'll have to see how things go in August. If they happen to be here training in August, we'll see how they progress.
“It's the physical part, the mental part, then the toughness part. Football is a tough game. Thank goodness not always the most talented guys are the guys who play. It's the guys who are the most productive.”
Along with special teams value, Spears' strength at the very least gives him a chance to see time in the DE rotation.