Oct. 2, 2013
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IOWA CITY, Iowa — As a 16-year old, Reggie Spearman was terrorizing high school football players in the Chicago Public League. Now, at the ripe age of 17, he is smacking pads against some of the best in Division I.
Spearman, a true freshman linebacker for the University of Iowa, saw his first collegiate action Sept. 21 against Western Michigan. He followed that with playing time last week at Minnesota.
“We felt it was in Reggie’s best interest and in our team’s best interest to insert him into the Western Michigan game,” UI head coach Kirk Ferentz said. “He got started there and in a couple weeks’ time he has been very involved in our kickoff coverage. He seems to find a way to the football. He doesn’t look at all overwhelmed, he looks like he belongs out there and we’re eager to build on that as the weeks move forward.”
“If coach Ferentz wants me to play special teams, I’ll play special teams. You win or lose in all three phases of the game: offense, defense and special teams. It’s an honor to be out there playing at the Big Ten level and only 17. I’m grateful.”
Iowa has won four consecutive games and owns a 4-1 record (1-0 in the Big Ten) as it prepares for a Homecoming contest against Michigan State (3-1) on Saturday. Spearman observed from the sidelines in weeks 1-3, but he has been on the field the last two weeks in which the Hawkeyes have won by a combined score of 82-10. In two games Spearman compiled six assisted tackles.
“Football is my livelihood, I have been doing this since I was little,” Spearman said Wednesday inside the Kenyon Football Practice facility. “I was excited to get out there; I was going to the ball and doing what coach asked me to do and being disciplined.”
Spearman compiled four tackles against Western Michigan, a total that tied him for third-highest on the team. He added two stops in the Big Ten opener at Minnesota.
“I was excited to be on the field and be with the older guys playing,” Spearman said.
“If I didn’t have the three linebackers ahead of me I don’t know where I would be,” Spearman said. “They taught me almost everything I have learned. Coming in I had a lot of things I needed to fix and James Morris and Hitchens helped me fix it. Now I feel 10 times better as a player. I’m grateful to all three of them.”
While Spearman idolizes former Texas A&M linebacker Von Miller, now of the Denver Broncos, he calls Hitchens a mentor.
“I looked up to Von Miller, now I’m looking at Hitch every down and every play. I take notes from him, too,” Spearman said.
Because of the experience ahead of Spearman on the linebacker depth chart, he is getting his feet wet on special teams, like so many great Hawkeyes before him.
“If coach Ferentz wants me to play special teams, I’ll play special teams,” Spearman said. “You win or lose in all three phases of the game: offense, defense and special teams. It’s an honor to be out there playing at the Big Ten level and only 17. I’m grateful.”