Thursday, November 29, 2012

An Ode to Spencer Nealy


Even as a dedicated, borderline fanatical fan it is still difficult to keep up with and stay familiar with the 50+ players (the ones that see action at least) that encompass a football roster.  The skill positions get their due from the main stream media, physical, raw defensive specimens are usually given the respect they deserve (or maybe too much so in Manti “underwhelming Heisman candidate” Teo’s case), but what about everyone else?

Beyond the quarterback, I think the most important players on the field are lumped into the gritty trenches (both offensive and defensive).  Usually unbeknownst to the common fan, they are, more often than not, the ones most crucial to victory.  

Think about it in the most simple of terms, an offensive line blocks perfectly… all the skill positions have ample time to run the play exactly as it is designed.  On the other side, a defensive line stuffs the run, minimal gain, a defensive line pressures the quarterback, mistakes are often made and linebackers and defensive backs have less ground to cover.  Simply put, games are decided up front.

The trenches are where a new Texas A&M cult hero has made his mark. 

Spencer Nealy is a charismatic beast of a football player.

Now, I knew who Spencer Nealy was for the past couple of years, but it wasn’t until midway through this year when his candid interviews and inspired play made him a household name amongst A&M enthusiasts.  Daontre Moore will be a first round pick this year or next, and our linebackers are as solid as they come, but after observing the greatness of this season, I truly believe Spencer Nealy is the most important player on our defense.

Let’s go back to the beginning and get some facts on this kid.

Spencer played high school football at Reagan High School in San Antonio, and was named San Antonio Area Defensive Player of the Year by the San Antonio Express-News after his senior season.  He was a 2-star recruit according to Rivals.com and turned down offers from TCU and Kansas State to come play for the Texas A&M Aggies.

His freshmen year he played sparingly in all 13 games.  Pretty solid for an unheralded defensive lineman recruit.

His sophomore year he again played in all 13 games, contributing a bit more, and making a few notable plays during the year (a tipped pass against Texas that led to a Von Miller interception).

His junior year he was thrust onto the field when Jonathan Mathis was injured.  He started the final 9 games and was eventually named honorable mention All-Big 12.  A building-block type of year.

Nothing about that trip down memory lane predicted the difference maker (and fan favorite) that he has grown into this year. 

Yes, I said it… DIFFERENCE MAKER. 

He inspires, he makes plays, he hustles, he elevates those around him, and last but not least, he celebrates.

He celebrates on the field… and off the field.  In a matter of months, he has become a media favorite for the Aggie devout.  His candid interviews are spectacular.  He brings a certain authenticity and playful attitude to the microphone that is hard to find in sports these days.  And that attitude is incredibly endearing when the player is an animal on the football field.  Tell jokes, and play like you don’t care?  Well you won’t last very long.  Spencer Nealy, though?  Yea, I don’t think anyone doubts his passion or his fortitude on the field.

Spencer Nealy has become a stud, and from what I can gather, it sounds like he has had a good time in the process (I obviously passed on some of that good cheer while hosting Johnny Manziel two years ago).

I may be a month, or a year, behind the curve on this Spencer Nealy adoration bandwagon… but who cares!  I am on it now!  Senior day against Missouri was the grand finale.  Spencer Nealy (and his mini me, Ryan Swope, for that matter) went berserk upon his personal introduction and five second bath in the lime light prior to game time.  It was a golden moment, and it induced chills down my spine.  The guy loves football, and the guy loves A&M.  And when those passions manifest themselves into a player that accomplishes anything more than Rudy, well that is a pretty awesome story. 

Spencer Nealy annihilated Missouri on senior day at Kyle Field.  And when he did, he attempted a SNL Chris Farley Chippendales tribute dance.  Let that soak in for a minute.  I am going to miss this guy. 

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