Spears will get a chance to make that dream come true but it wasn't like what he envisioned.
Spears was a standout receiver and cornerback in Montgomery, Texas, and several major programs were hot on the recruiting trail as he entered his senior season.
And then, disaster struck.
"The first scrimmage — it wasn't even a game — I was at cornerback and on the first series, I was going in on a tackle and one of my teammates hit my knee and I was done for the season," Spears said. "It was hard for me because I had big dreams of going to play ball and I thought everything was over when I got injured. I stopped getting phone calls and I stopped getting letters from colleges."
One of Spears' high school coaches knew the recruiting coordinator at Prairie View A&M and convinced him to give Spears a shot as a walk-on. Flash forward, and Spears is a possible late-round draft choice or priority free agent. He worked out for the Green Bay Packers recently as an outside linebacker after being one of Prairie View's top defenders in each of his last three seasons.
"I went in and really didn't know what to expect," Spears said of his first workout for a pro scout. "It was trying. I went in and basically didn't know what to expect. We ended up doing all of our testing — the 40, the vertical, the height/weight, everything all over — and after that, we did position-type drills. It was a great experience."
Spears was a 180-pound receiver when he arrived at Prairie View. One day, he was asked about switching to the defensive side of the ball. Spears assumed that meant cornerback or safety. Instead, he was put at defensive end.
Surprisingly, Spears found the two positions to be incredibly similar. Many of the techniques that were used to be beat press coverage, such as swim and rip moves, helped him beat opposing linemen.
As a sophomore, Spears said he was up to about 200 pounds. He led the team with five sacks, was second in tackles for losses (10) and fourth in tackles (39). After three sacks, eight tackles for losses and a fourth-ranked 51 tackles as a junior, Spears earned first-team honors in the SWAC as a senior by finishing third on the team with 70 tackles, second with four sacks and first with nine tackles for losses.
The 6-foot-5 Spears is up to 240 pounds. If he lands in Green Bay, the scout told him to be at about 242. In addition to adding good weight, Spears has been working on the footwork and drops to play outside linebacker.
"It's something that I'd have to learn the in's and out's with more details, because I'm used to playing defensive end," he said. "I think it would be great and I'm open to the ideas and suggestions."
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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport.