Spence article

FRCane

Sophomore
Joined
Nov 3, 2011
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CORAL GABLES â€â€￾ As one of 12 semifinalists for the 2011 Butkus Award, Sean Spence has a chance to become only the second University of Miami player to win the trophy given to college football's top linebacker.

"It would be a tremendous honor, but I have to give credit to my teammates," Spence said. "It's not like I'm the only player out there."

This season, it sometimes has seemed that way.

Heading into Saturday's game at Florida State, Spence leads the Atlantic Coast Conference in tackles for loss (1.50 per game) and is second in tackles overall (10.4 average).

But numbers don't accurately reflect Spence's importance to UM (5-4, 3-3 ACC). Without him, the Hurricanes could easily be on the wrong side of a .500 record.

Against North Carolina on Oct. 8, Spence made a game-saving sack on the second-to-last play of a 30-24 victory. The following week, Spence moved from outside linebacker to the middle and helped limit a Georgia Tech rushing attack ranked second nationally to 134 yards in a 24-7 victory.

Spence has been so singularly impressive that he was named ACC Linebacker of the Week after a 38-35 loss to Virginia Tech on Oct. 1 during which the Hurricanes' defense was torched for 482 yards of total offense.

In the one game he missed this year - a 32-24 loss to Maryland that Spence sat out because of an NCAA-imposed suspension - the Hurricanes gave up a season-high 499 yards of total offense.

"Sean's play has been spectacular," defensive coordinator Mark D'Onofrio said. "He makes negative plays, he makes physical plays and he makes big plays."

Spence, a senior who graduated from Miami Northwestern High, has been making plays pretty much since the first day he stepped on campus. Last week, he moved ahead of Dan Morgan (1997-2000) in career tackles for loss at UM with 45.

The NCAA credits Spence with 44 tackles for loss, a discrepancy that dates back to last season's UM-Clemson game, but the number is still tied for first nationally among active players.

"Sean Spence right now is playing lights out," coach Al Golden said recently. "There's good years, there's great years and then there's special years. Right now, he's having a special year."

Spence could become UM's first All-American linebacker since Morgan in 2000, who also won the Butkus Award that season.

"The saying I have is that 3-1 leads the way," said safety Vaughn Telemaque, referring to Spence's No. 31. "He carries the defense."

D'Onofrio said it's hard to find a flaw in Spence's game.

"If you had to look at one weakness, it's that he's barely six foot. I'll give him six foot," D'Onofrio said. "And he's barely 220 pounds. And that's after lunch. But he makes up for that because his instincts are so good and he's not one of these guys that gets pushed around a lot."

UM lists Spence at 6 feet and 224 pounds, but his lack of prototypical size may not affect his draft prospects. Earlier this year, ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper Jr. listed Spence as the second-best outside linebacker available in the 2012 draft.

"Playing hard, using proper technique and accepting coaching is what it's all about," Spence said. "You don't always have to be the biggest guy.
 
Joined
Nov 5, 2011
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42
lets not forget that Derrick Brooks was thought to be too small to be a stud in the NFL and we all know how that turned out ... i think Spence has a chance to be an impact player on the right team .. he'll bulk up a lil once in the league
 

#26-MEAST

Junior
Joined
Nov 3, 2011
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1,576
He's gonna get his first pick of the year this Saturday baby!
 

Biscuits

coldwater
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Nov 3, 2011
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4,528
What a badass. Didn't know he had more TFL than Morgan, but I'm not surprised.
 

DiegoCane

All-ACC
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Nov 2, 2011
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8,737
I think he's pretty underrated when it comes to how our fans judge him.

Would be curious to see how he would do with a good DL in front of him.
 
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