The 6-0, 186-pound senior cornerback says he has scholarship offers from 36 colleges. Two of the colleges he is most interested in met at that bowl game in Nashville with Auburn prevailing 28-14.
"That bowl was a big game for me," Spells tells Inside the Auburn Tigers. "I was looking at the playing style of these teams and how the cornerbacks play. It was a good game."
Spells took an official recruiting visit to the campus of the University of Wisconsin before Christmas and watched the Badgers practice on their home fields in Madison to get ready for the bowl game.
A very impressive senior season has attracted plenty of college coaches who are interested in Spells, who was a virtual unknown in football recruiting circles prior to his senior season because he was a track standout who didn't play football his junior season.
"Recruiting really didn't get started for me until this season because I was hurt last year and didn't play," Spells says. "I was coming off a great summer track season and I injured my hamstrings the day before the first game. I tried to come back early, but I hurt myself again and I was out for the season. Getting my hamstrings well was my main priority because I thought that I would be going to college to run track."
He has the speed to compete in track at the college level with best times of 10.72 in the 100 meters, 21.65 for 200 meters and 47.2 in the 400. "I want to compete in both football and track in college," he says.
With Auburn commitment Calvin Booker leading the way at offense as the Mays High quarterback and a very strong secondary anchoring the defense, that school finished the season 11-1. "I feel like we had one of the best secondaries in the nation," Spells says. "We didn't give up a touchdown pass all year and all of us are going to sign with Division I colleges."
Spells notes that he played some safety, but spent most of his time at cornerback, which is the position that Auburn and other colleges are recruiting him to play. He looks like he will have the quickness to do that in addition to good size for that position. "My best 40 time is 4.38," he says. "I ran a 4.47 at Nike and a 4.48 at a Georgia Tech camp."
Spells says he likes to use his exceptional speed to be a big-play man on defense. He came up with nine fumble recoveries this past season and intercepted five passes while making 45 solo tackles. He also forced four fumbles and scored points by making two tackles for safeties and running a fumble for a touchdown. Spells added two sacks.
The cornerback takes pride in being physical on the football field. "If somebody is running, I have to hit him," he says. "If somebody throws a pass, I have to knock it down if I can't catch it. Most of the people I am being recruited by are telling me that I play more aggressively than a lot of people they are recruiting. They say I am not scared to hit somebody and I am not a finesse player. They say I have the ability to cover and tell me they like the way I come up to hit."
"Wisconsin is a great program," he says. "The whole town of Madison is really supports Wisconsin. They are really big on their football team. They respect them and believe in them a lot. They are a real family up there." The defensive back says he also likes Badger head coach Barry Alvarez.
Commenting on Wake Forest, Spells says, "That visit was great, too. It surprised me that it is really a small school. I didn't realize that they were the second smallest school in Division I. They only have 4,000 students in the whole school."
Commenting on the Tigers, he says, "Auburn is in the SEC and I think that is the greatest conference there is. I like playing against the best competition. It lets you know where you stand. It is real close to home and if I go to Auburn I will have a chance to go there with a friend (Calvin Booker). Then the defense plays a lot of man under and a lot of zone. In my high school, all we did was man. We manned up all of the time."
Tiger Ticket Extra: Spells, who is interested in majoring in business in college, is expected to have no trouble being an academic qualifier with a 1,010 on his SAT...The first game of the season stood out for Spells as his team defeated Banneker and he was able to be a major contributor. "I had maybe nine tackles and a couple of knockdowns," he says. "It wasn't anything spectacular, but I played my hardest and we all played our hardest playing for our new head coach because he was our fifth head coach in the last four years. That was our biggest win."