Jayhawks nab big-time athlete

Dallas Woodrow Wilson corner Colin Spencer made a splash on the national scene in early March, when he dominated a Nike SPARQ combine in Houston. He caught the eye of the Kansas coaching staff, and a few days ago the Jayhawks extended a scholarship offer. Tuesday, Spencer accepted - becoming the latest member of Charlie Weis' Class of 2013.

The decision to extend a Division One scholarship offer to a prospect is not one made lightly.

There's a process involved - an extensive investigative process during which no stone is left unturned. A rigid chain of command is followed which ultimately leads to the desk of the head coach.

All of which is perfectly reasonable, of course. Scholarship offers are a valuable commodity, a limited resource. By making an offer, a program is declaring their belief that a prospect is worth the consumption of a precious roster spot for the next four years - sometimes five or even six depending on the circumstances.

It's a big deal.

When Kansas assistant Reggie Mitchell first made contact with Dallas Woodrow Wilson cornerback Colin Spencer during the spring, he was impressed enough to make his way down to the Metroplex to check him out in person. He left even more impressed, but told Spencer he wasn't going to do anything until everyone on the staff had seen his tape.

Not long after, Jayhawks defensive coordinator Dave Campo - a well-known and highly-regarded name in Dallas for the many successful years he spent with the Cowboys - made the trip south to Texas. He left impressed as well.

And that's when he brought it to Head Coach Charlie Weis.

"About five plays in they shut (his film) off and said it was a done deal," Spencer said. "They were offering."

That was just a few days ago. Monday, the speedy corner arrived on the Lawrence, Kan. campus with his family - his mom, dad and sister - and it was his turn to be impressed.

So impressed, in fact, that Tuesday evening he gave his verbal pledge to the Jayhawks.

"We got the good feeling from the players, the coaches, the facilities, the area, the town - everything was great," Spencer said. "Me and my family sat down and it was just one of those things where everything you've worked for is finally here and this seemed to be the right school."

The plan wasn't to commit while still on campus. It was to make the visit, scope things out, head back home and talk things over as a family. Then, maybe, they'd be ready to decide.

"We held to that until about an hour before I committed," Spencer said. "(His dad) was like 'Look, the school is great. The team is great.' I feel like I can help them rise from where they are."

Kansas may have been the first program to reach out with a scholarship offer, but it's a safe bet others weren't far behind. Spencer created a splash on the recruiting circuit in early March when he dominated a Nike SPARQ combine in Houston.

The SPARQ system - an acronym for Speed/Power/Agility/Reaction/Quickness - was devised in 2004 as a potential standardized method for the assessment of an individual's athleticism. During the Houston event, Spencer recorded a SPARQ rating of 141.12 - easily the best at the combine, the top score in the nation this season and one of the best in the history of the test.

At 5-foot-10 and 174 pounds, he ran a 4.42-second laser-time 40-yard dash, an astonishing 3.87-second shuttle and leapt 42 inches vertically.

Oh, and he benches 315 pounds as well.

His performance earned him an invite to The Opening, the culminating event of the Nike SPARQ combine season which pits the best of the best against each other in one final round of testing. Spencer said he's hoping to claim the crown, and bring it with him to Kansas.

But that's next month. In the moment, Spencer is just happy to be a Jayhawk, where Weis and Co. have big plans for him in addition to playing cornerback.

"Coach Weis also said he'd love to see me on the offensive side of the ball and definitely on the return team," he said. "But I think Coach Campo - if I can learn from anyone it's him."

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