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McNeese State wide receiver/kick returner Diontae Spencer runs against Stephen F. Austin Saturday afternoon in Nacogdoches, Texas. (Associated Press)

McNeese State wide receiver/kick returner Diontae Spencer runs against Stephen F. Austin Saturday afternoon in Nacogdoches, Texas. (Associated Press)

Hickey Column: Humble Spencer earning bragging rights

Last Modified: Monday, November 11, 2013 10:50 AM

By Alex Hickey / American Press

In all of sports, wide receivers and sprinters tend to have the biggest egos.

The world’s fastest man, Usain Bolt, isn’t afraid to let you know it. He still sets world records even when he starts celebrating in the final 5 meters of a race. When he won gold in the 100- and 200-meter dashes at the 2012 Olympics, he proclaimed “I’m now a legend. I am the greatest athlete to live.”

Cris Collinsworth was a receiver before his days as a color commentator, and has the inflated head to prove it. In 1983, Collinsworth pulled off a publicity stunt where he raced against a horse after arriving at the track in a limousine with Playboy bunnies in tow. (The horse won. Maybe Collinsworth should have traveled solo).

Terrell Owens, who once showed off by doing crunches in his driveway while reporters stood outside his house, is one of the ultimate “me-first” guys in team sports history.

You get the picture.

McNeese senior Diontae Spencer is both a sprinter and a wide receiver. He finished second in the 100 at this year’s Southland Conference meet, and set a school record with 365 all-purpose yards in Saturday’s 69-38 win at Stephen F. Austin.

So what proclamations did this combination of the sports world’s two most ego-driven talents have to make after the game?

“Did you want to interview me?”

Heck yes.

Nobody in McNeese history has ever had a game like this. Only five other guys have ever returned three kicks for touchdowns in a Division I game. Only three in the FCS.

I’d say it’s worth at least one quote.

“I first want to thank God, and then my teammates, because without those guys none of this was possible,” Spencer said. “It’s something you can’t really dream about, because I didn’t expect to do this. I just wanted to help my team get a win. I thank them for allowing me to do what I did tonight.”

Who does this guy think he is, a fullback?

Spencer’s humility does not fit the narrative of either of his trades.

“Track didn’t really help with speed, but with giving confidence to know I’m a fast guy,” Spencer said. “I can make things happen with my speed. It helped me gain that second gear with confidence in myself and my ability.

That’s not to say he lacks confidence. The week of the Sam Houston State game, no Cowboy seemed more outwardly certain of a McNeese victory than himself.

Sometimes he will try to make a play that makes you shake your head because he knows he has the ability to turn nothing into something. Sometimes it works wonders, other times it has put the Cowboys in a tight spot.

But you haven’t seen those high-risk type of plays since earlier in the season. The trust he has put in his teammates to set things up showed with a pair of big returns at Nicholls, and then paid its biggest dividends in Saturday’s record-breaking effort.

That lets you know Spencer isn’t just paying lipservice when thanking his teammates. He realizes they are helping him realize his full potential on the field.

In turn, Spencer’s individual excellence can help the Cowboys realize their full potential as a team as the season winds towards the playoffs. Opponents will be wary of kicking it anywhere near No. 4, potentially giving the offense shortened fields to capitalize on.

If Spencer can play a part in getting McNeese some postseason glory for the first time in a decade, he may even start bragging.

At least he’ll have earned the right.

• • •

Alex Hickey covers McNeese State athletics. Email him at ahickey@americanpress.com

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