Melvin Spears plays high school football in Texas, but his style as a middle linebacker apparently is better suited for Big Ten country.
That’s why his coaches at perennial power Allen High School in Allen, Texas, were happy when Spears committed to Iowa on Thursday.
“He’s a big, thick, (middle) linebacker,” said Jeff Fleener, who serves as Allen’s offensive coordinator and recruiting coordinator. “And the thing that we like about (Melvin) coming to Iowa is it fits what he does.
“Obviously, down here in Texas we get a lot of spread offenses and things like that and we’re glad he’s going to go somewhere it really suits his body type and his playing style. He’s kind of a throwback to an old school (middle) linebacker.”
Spears took an official visit to Iowa City last weekend, which was highlighted by Iowa’s 24-3 victory over Penn State last Saturday night before a sellout crowd at Kinnick Stadium.
He is believed to be at least the 15th high school senior to commit to Iowa and the second from Texas, joining receiver Austin Vincent from DeSoto.
Fleener said Spears likes how Iowa uses the middle linebacker in its 4-3 alignment.
Senior Jeff Tarpinian starts at middle linebacker for Iowa this season and he was preceded by two-time all-Big Ten selection Pat Angerer in 2008 and 2009.
Angerer is now in his rookie season as a member of the Indianapolis Colts.
“It was a big key for him to really understand and study Iowa once he got their offer and realize (Iowa) sends some guys to the league,” Fleener said. “And seeing some of those Big Ten offenses, it’s a little bit different stuff and better suited for what he does.
“He’s a down-hill football player that can run from sideline to sideline.”
Spears is a two-year starter in high school and he also played a significant role for Allen’s 2008 state championship team as a sophomore reserve.
The Eagles are off to a 5-0 start this season.
Spears is ranked as a three-star prospect by both Scout.com and Rivals.com and he picked Iowa over offers from Minnesota and Arkansas State.
Fleener said Spears, who is listed at 6-foot-2, 215-pounds, also was getting interest from most of the Big Ten schools, whereas schools from the Big 12 Conference were taking a wait-and-see approach.
“A lot of it again comes down to if you watch a lot of the Big 12 schools down here, they’ll take those (middle) linebackers and they’re on the field for first down and then they pull them off because of so much of the spread (offense) is being used,” Fleener said. “You know, the little quicker guys, those kinds of guys that are out in coverage.”
Spears plays for the third largest high school in Texas, with Allen having approximately 5,100 students. The school, which is located near Dallas, also recently built a new football stadium at a cost of $60 million.
Fleener said Spears is among at least three Division I players on Allen’s current team.
Allen produces so many college players on a regular basis that the coaches feel it’s necessary to have a recruiting coordinator.
“It’s pretty crazy around here,” Fleener said. “The foot traffic that comes through here, it’s helpful to put somebody in charge of that other than the head coach.”
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football