LINCOLN — The NFL GM approved. So did the College Football Hall of Famer.
The 15th pledge to Nebraska’s 2016 recruiting class just had to make sure Mom was on board with him playing for the Huskers.
So when receiver/return specialist J.D. Spielman of Eden Prairie, Minnesota, made his second visit to NU’s campus last weekend, he brought his mother, Michele. Nebraska’s primary competition for Spielman’s commitment, understand, was hometown Minnesota.
“I wanted her to see the school and meet the coaches before I made a final decision,” said Spielman, a 5-foot-8, 173-pound athlete who plans to play slot receiver for NU. “Once I knew she liked it as much as I did, I was all in.”
Thus, the Huskers picked up a three-star prospect (according to Rivals, Scout and 247Sports) who projects to the same position as current Nebraska slot De’Mornay Pierson-El. Spielman played a similar role last season for Eden Prairie, which won its fourth straight “big school” state title and 10th in the last 19 years. Spielman is the son of Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman and the nephew of Rick’s brother, former Ohio State and Lions linebacker Chris Spielman. The latter has served as an ABC/ESPN TV analyst for many Nebraska games in recent years.
“They both told me how intense and crazy the Nebraska fan base is and what a game is like,” J.D. Spielman said.
Both sang the praises of new Husker coach Mike Riley. J.D. Spielman said he liked the way Nebraska coaches treated him and how Riley explained Spielman’s role in the offense. He’ll also get a shot at kick and punt returns, he said.
Playing for Eden Prairie — whose coach, Mike Grant, is the son of Vikings coaching legend Bud Grant — Spielman had a utility role behind the starter, William Rains, whom Spielman said is attending Iowa Western. Spielman had roughly 600 yards of total offense and 47 tackles on defense. He returned two kicks for touchdowns.
That season, Spielman said, was good enough that coaches prodded him to consider playing college football instead of college lacrosse, a sport in which he’s one of the nation’s top recruits. For two years, Spielman had been committed to Ohio State’s program. Ronnie, his older brother, plays lacrosse there.
Rick — who would know — offered up a few pointers on how to improve in football. And J.D. sent out some tape and let schools know he was interested in playing that sport.
“I figured it couldn’t hurt,” he said.
Several Big Ten programs — Iowa, Minnesota and Michigan — offered a scholarship. Spielman said the toughest call he made was to Ohio State’s lacrosse program.
“But my first love was really always college football,” Spielman said. He likes the NFL, too, and has seen a lot of players up close because of his dad’s job. His favorite NFL player: Percy Harvin, a former slot receiver/return man for the Vikings who now plays for the Bills. Spielman admired Harvin’s talent and the different ways he could affect a game — running, catching, returning.
Spielman’s role is a little like that.
“I try the best I can to do it like he does,” Spielman said, “but there’s a reason he’s in the pros.”
Contact the writer: