Spencer, a 6-foot-5, 330-pound projected guard from Poughkeepsie, N.Y., also was the first Big East player taken in the draft. The Panthers sent offensive tackle Rob Petitti to the Dallas Cowboys last season and also had Bryan Anderson taken by the Chicago Bears in 2003. But he was the first since Ruben Brown went to the Buffalo Bills in 1995.
"Everyone knows that Charles has a tremendous upside, and Houston didn't think it was a reach to get him with the third pick in the third round,'' Joe Linta, Spencer's agent, said. "They have a good quarterback and running back, but they had a need for linemen this year.
"So, they took Charles and tackle Eric Winston from Miami. Charles and Eric will be able to grow with some of the young players on that team, and I'm sure that Charles will have a long future in the NFL. He's a great guy, and I think that's a great opportunity for him with the Houston Texans."
After lettering on defense for two seasons at Pitt, Spencer moved to offense and started his final 23 games. He finished strong in 2004 to earn second-team All-Big East honors as a left guard for the Panthers. Spencer moved to left tackle last season and also was a second-team All-Conference selection. He played in the 2006 Senior Bowl.
"Charles Spencer is a guy that should make an excellent offensive guard in the NFL,'' second-year Pitt coach Dave Wannstedt said.
"He's big and strong and very athletic, but he just hasn't played offensive line for a long time. He might not make an immediate impact in the NFL, but I believe he has the ability to stay for quite a while.''
Spencer did not return telephone calls to any Pittsburgh media members after he was drafted despite repeated calls and messages left.