April 26, 2014
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Fans of University of Iowa football won't find the name Reggie Reid on Saturday's Spring Game roster, but the Hawkeye players -- especially linebackers -- know him well.
Reggie Reid is actually a nickname for 17-year-old sophomore Will linebacker Reggie Spearman, who turns 18 on Aug. 17. He earned the moniker because of the hours he logs studying film with UI linebackers coach Jim Reid.
"He has been getting in the film room, sitting there with coach Reid, myself, and Travis (Perry), breaking down all the basics of the defense so he can go out there 800 miles an hour in the right direction," said senior Quinton Alston, now the graybeard of the UI linebacker group.
The Hawkeyes graduated their top three tacklers -- all linebackers -- from a team that won eight games in the regular season and played in the 2014 Outback Bowl. Spearman is listed as a starter on the spring depth chart along with Alston and junior Travis Perry.
"In my eyes I feel everything has been going great, I'm able to read offenses better, I'm learning the defense better. Everything I'm learning this spring is preparing me for the season. I'm very thankful for the opportunity to play. The coaches have prepared me well. I learned the playbook and caught on fast. I don't want to let the coaches down and I don't want to let Iowa football down."
"In my eyes I feel everything has been going great," Spearman said. "I'm able to read offenses better, I'm learning the defense better. Everything I'm learning this spring is preparing me for the season. I'm very thankful for the opportunity to play.
"The coaches have prepared me well. I learned the playbook and caught on fast. I don't want to let the coaches down and I don't want to let Iowa football down."
Spearman was one of four true freshmen to see action in 2013. He compiled 10 tackles in 10 games.
"I had some great mentors show me the ropes last year and I picked up on what they taught me, so I'm excited to be out there and contribute," Spearman said. "The biggest thing I learned was effort. You have to give effort 100 percent of the time. James (Morris) really stressed effort last year. Even though they blow the whistle, he would tell me run to the ball, give effort. That is one of the biggest things I have focused on this spring -- every play I run to the ball and coaches appreciate it."
Spearman has noticed physical growth after a season in the weight room with strength and conditioning coach Chris Doyle and his staff. Extra time in the film room is paying off, too.
"When he first got here, he was pretty raw," Alston said. "He has gotten so much faster because now he has more knowledge of the game."
Reid doesn't mind sharing an office with Spearman.
"He's a marvelous student, and he is working hard both physically and mentally to become a great football player, and he'll get there," Reid said. "He has some great qualities."
The Hawkeyes concluded their 15th and final spring practice Saturday inside Kinnick Stadium. The first game of the regular season is Aug. 30 against Northern Iowa.