Spires Excited for New Opportunity with USF

Bulls Linebacker Donte Spires, who left the football team in 2007 for personal reasons, is returning for the 2009 season. Read this exclusive interview with Donte and find all about why he's returning, his expectations, and his outlook for the spring. Only on USFNation.com.

Donte Spires Profile

What are your feelings about rejoining the USF football team?

"I feel very excited about it, and am looking forward to the opportunity to compete again."


How long have you been talking with the coaches about returning?

"I've been talking with Coach Leavitt for about a month, ever since I approached him about coming back."


Why did you decide to return?

"I started missing the game. I really did. When I left the team I had to deal with some family issues, and I had to deal with that. Once that got under control, I decide to approach Coach Leavitt about returning."


What have you been doing since to stay in shape since last playing against Pitt in '07?

"Besides going to school, I've been going to school and have been running, lifting weights and eating right.


What's your height, weight, and have you kept your speed?

"I'm still 6'2 and about 230 pounds right now. My speed is coming back. It's nowhere near what it used to be, but I'm naturally fast, and it'll come back. I've been working out with the team for about 4 weeks now and its' starting to come back. That's just going to take a little time."


When did you start missing the game and wanting to come back?

"I think that started last year. I was watching the games, seeing the guys on TV and think about USF stuff and really starting missing the game, working out with the team, and doing all the crazy stuff that they do. I always loved the game, but had to take care of my some things."


Was hard watching the games without being a part of it?

"It was very hard watching my friends and teammates struggling and having success. I'm just glad to have the opportunity to be part of that again."


When you saw the injury to Brouce did that make you think about it more?

"I don't look at somebody getting hurt as an opportunity. It was more because of me getting my situation under control. I did think that I could have helped them."


Did watching the team go 5-0 and then struggle late have any affect?

"Last year I wasn't really thinking about football. I was trying to gather myself and working things out, and football wasn't on my mind."


Do you want to elaborate on the family issues that you had?

"I talked with Coach Leavitt about everything, he understands my situation and what I had to do, and would like to just leave it at that."


What was the discussion about you walking on and earning a scholarship?

"Coach wanted me to earn my scholarship back, and I think that's the right thing to do.  It helps build team camaraderie when I have to earn my position on the team."


How did the team react when you first rejoined them last month?

"It was good. They respect me and I respect them. It's like when I first came in from Pearl, I worked hard and did the right things and earned their respect. They know my situation and embraced me when I returned."


Are you looking forward to rejoining the guys and your former mates from Pearl?

"Oh yeah, I talked to them all the time, and talk with Kion a lot.  I'm looking forward to being with the whole team. I've been missing them."


Do you see an overall difference in the team?

"Yeah, I can see a difference in all the guys, everybody looks bigger and better, not just one person."


Have the coaches been talking to you about what positions you'll play?

 "I'll be playing outside linebacker, most likely WILL."


What assets do you bring as a player?

"My determination and how I always work hard. I'm always working hard to be the best I can be I try to lead by example, show good character, values, and the rest will take care of itself."


Are you looking forward to contributing to the team?

"Yes sir, I really am. I look forward to coming in and competing for a position. It's what I love, and I'm just glad to get the opportunity again."


Do you have any feelings on Wally Burnham's departure?

"I don't really want to comment too much on that. Coach Burnham is great guy and made a decision for him and his family and I respect that."


After being gone, what are the easiest and hardest things for you?

"I'd probably say the easiest thing it's going out there reading the play and making tackles, I've always been strong at that and it doesn't go away. The hardest thing is getting my legs back under me, and that will take a few weeks to get them back."


What do you think of the new interactive video board to track the team's progress?

"I think it's really cool. Everybody numbers are right there and it helps build competition with all the players. I've been using it, but right now I'm not stacking up to well with the other guys. Give me some time and I will."


Do you feel that coming back in the spring will help you get acclimated for next season?

"Most definitely, I already feel better about getting out there. When you're out there and in the fire, it gets you motivated to want to get better. I just want to compete and whatever happens happens."  


How's the teams' attitude been since you've rejoined them?

"The attitude is very positive. Everybody seems real hungry, and is working very hard to get better. The coaches have got the team fired up and they look like their responding to it."


Since you haven't played since '07, how excited are you to strap pads on this spring?

"Oh man, I can't say how much I'm looking forward to strapping those pads on and start running around and hitting. It's been a long time and you don't know how much you miss it until you stop.


What do you want to accomplish this spring?

"I want to try and get better every day, it's what I love. I want to become a student of the game again and work on all the little things to get better. I just want to compete and do the best that I know I can."

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