News From Terre Haute, Indiana

College

June 25, 2011

Spencer helps ISU football in present and future

Ex-Michigan State WR joins the Sycamores

TERRE HAUTE — During the 2010 season, Indiana State’s receivers caught 180 passes. Of that haul, receivers who caught 123 of those balls come back to the Sycamores for the 2011 campaign.

The returning receivers run the gamut from wideout Justin Hilton (40 catches), tight end Alex Jones (30), fullback Brock Lough (10), and yes, even quarterback Ronnie Fouch, who had one catch for 34 yards.

So when former Michigan State wide receiver Donald Spencer tweeted his intention to come to ISU to play football on Thursday, you might ask yourself, how are the Sycamores going to keep its deep reserve of receivers happy?

It’s a nice “problem” to have. Even so, ISU coach Trent Miles isn’t really worried about the present, because the team-first mandate he drives home to the team won’t abide selfishness on the part of any of his players.

While Spencer, who is listed at 6-foot-2, 203 pounds on Michigan State’s web site, will help the Sycamores immediately, Miles has an eye on the three years of remaining eligibility Spencer has left as the Sycamores plan for life beyond the 2011 season.

“Justin and Ednut [Egberongbe] are seniors, so we were going to have to sign a JUCO after the season. Now we don’t have to. Donald has three years to complete three years of eligibility, so we’re solid for the future,” said Miles on Friday after he received Spencer’s scholarship papers.

The addition of Spencer heralds a new era in the Miles’ coaching regime.

Outside of his freshman recruiting classes, most of the offseason roster moves Miles has had to make since he was hired in 2007 were decisions made in the immediate interest of the Sycamore program. Players like Hilton and Fouch were added to the roster to fill.

The future wasn’t a concept the talent-depleted and manpower-challenged Sycamores could afford to address in recent offseasons via Division I transfers, but with the addition of Spencer, ISU made a move that sets itself up for the future.

Spencer spent most of 2010 playing special teams for the Big Ten tri-champion Spartans. He had two catches for 21 yards, both receptions coming against Iowa.

Spencer sat out the 2009 season as a redshirt. During that season, he was suspended by Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio during a fraternity altercation in November of that season. According to the Detroit Free Press, Spencer faced no criminal charges and was reinstated after the Spartans’ Alamo Bowl appearance that season.

Spencer was highly-touted when he came out of Ypsilanti (Mich.) High School in 2008. He was a top 50 recruit according to all of the recruiting service rankings that season. He was ranked a four-star recruit by Rivals.com.

“I like his size. He’s big — 6-foot-3 — and he’s a strong receiver that has good ball skills and runs good routes,” said Miles who said Spencer has the ability to be a deep threat as well as catch balls over the middle.

Miles was also drawn to Spencer given that the offense that Michigan State used under former offensive coordinator Don Treadwell was similar to the one ISU uses under Miles. Treadwell is now the head coach at Miami of Ohio.

“[Spencer] is very familiar with what we do. They have a similar terminology with their passing game. He’s been in a good system at Michigan State and he understands it well,” Miles said.

While Spencer gives ISU a solid receiver to build around for the next three seasons, Spencer will help the 2011 team. Spencer should partially replace the production of ISU leading receiver Bryant Kent, who had 43 receptions in 2010.

“We lost Bryant who had a lot of experience. We want to surround Ronnie with as many options as we can,” Miles said. “[Spencer] has a big body who can catch and run. He’ll only make us stronger.”

Miles stressed that Spencer will still play special teams … along with any other Sycamores who plan to have a post-ISU football career.

“If any of these guys want a chance to move on, they have to play special teams. That’s our philosophy,” Miles said.

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