Diontae Spencer was McNeese's leading receiver and returner in 2013. (American Press Archives)
Last Modified: Tuesday, April 08, 2014 2:44 PMThey came for Nic Jacobs. They stayed for Diontae Spencer.
The 22 NFL teams in attendance at McNeese State’s Pro Day Monday knew all about Jacobs, the Cowboys 6-foot-5, 260-pound tight end. He was the only member of the team invited to last month’s NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.
Less evident on their radar was McNeese’s leading receiver and returner in 2013, who did his part to make sure that is no longer the case.
“Nic going to the Combine brought a lot of scouts to our Pro Day,” Spencer said. “I had talked to a couple teams, but I wasn’t expecting this many to show up.”
Spencer wowed the scouts with his showings in the 40-yard dash and vertical jump, which placed him amongst the best numbers posted by prospects at last month’s combine.
Spencer’s 40-inch vertical leap was only beaten by one wide receiver at the combine, Baylor’s Tevin Reese (41 inches). Big names bested by Spencer include the likes of LSU’s Odell Beckam (38.5) and Texas A&M’s Mike Evans (37).
The 5-foot-9 New Iberia native was clocked at 4.36 and 4.37 seconds in his two 40-yard dash runs, with the latter time coming against the wind.
Kent State running back Dri Archer (4.26), Oregon State wide receiver Brandin Crooks (4.33) and Pittsburg (Kan.) State receiver John Brown (4.34) were the only players at the climate-controlled Combine that outran Spencer’s times.
“I kind of wowed some of the scouts, because they weren’t expecting me to do that,” Spencer said. “I feel good now about my chance of going to the next level.”
Without the benefit of going to the combine, Spencer came into the day knowing his football future weighed heavily on today’s events. Now he can breath a tiny sigh of relief after several teams said they are interested in inviting him for visits.
“I really didn’t get much sleep,” Spencer said. “I was anxious to get out here and show everyone what I can do. I didn’t get the Combine invite, but that’s no worries because I knew my future is in my own hands.”
Spencer’s numbers impressed, but scouts were still ogling Jacobs as if they were at a bikini contest.
He was the obvious main attraction, and determined to improve his totals after being hampered by an injured pectoral muscle at the Combine.
“It helped being there because I got to see the best of the best among the tight ends do their drills and everything,” Jacobs said. “I knew what I would be up against when I went back to train. I was really focused on my hands and doing a lot of catching drills.”
He also had to respond to a challenge.
Jacobs initially declined to do the 60-yard shuttle run since he hadn’t practiced the drill. A non-plussed Seahawks scout responded by asking Jacobs if he would compete when he’s asked to during training camp.
That was all it took.
“I really wasn’t ready for it,” Jacobs said. “But when they said ‘Don’t you want to compete?’ I felt challenged. I did better than I thought I would. It’s all about competing. If you’re not ready to compete, then why play sports, you know?”
While Spencer and Jacobs earned most of the attention, the number of scouts in attendance gave opportunities to teammates like offensive lineman Arinze Agada and quarterback Cody Stroud who are hoping for the opportunity to get invited to someone’s training camp.
“It’s definitely beneficial to everyone,” Agada said. “The more scouts you have out here, the better chance you have on landing on an NFL team. I felt it gave us a better shot of reaching our potential.”