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Rookie Q&A – Chad Spann RB, No. Illinois


In less than one week, the hopes and dreams of a nation of would-be NFL rookies will take shape.  For many of these rookies, the only mystery remaining is the round in which they will be selected and the team for which they will begin their professional careers.  For a majority, however, a NFL career won’t be in the cards.  But in between these two groups are players that will not hear their names called but will get their shot in the NFL by signing as a free agent sometime after the draft.

Making this process more complicated is the fact that due to the ongoing CBA discussions and lack of a signed agreement, teams will be restricted from signing free agents immediately following the draft.  This may put greater emphasis on the need to hear your name called as a late round prospect, rather than choosing your own location in free agency, at least as it relates to reducing the anxiety attached to the uncertainty of knowing if/when your career is to continue.

We at DLF reached out to one such rookie that isn’t likely to be a high round selection but who is certainly on multiple teams’ lists for either a late round addition or free agent signing, ultra-productive Northern Illinois Husky running back Chad Spann.

In four years as a Husky, Spann amassed 2,916 yards rushing on 536 carries (5.4 ypca.) and 49 TDs on the ground and another 198 yards, 23 receptions and a single TD in the passing game.  At 5’8″ and just over 200 pounds, Spann has the weight as a smaller back that does create opportunity that lighter backs will not enjoy.  When watching tape of Spann, it’s easy to see his great base, leg drive and the leverage he creates with an exceptional pad level as he approaches contact.  With legitimate 4.5 speed, balance and an excellent stiff arm, Spann has the ability to create separation in traffic.  Simply put, Spann runs much bigger than his 5’8″ stature would suggest and has the inside running ability to get an opportunity at the next level.

Please watch the DLF featured video currently highlighting Chad Spann and his skill-set.

 

 

We caught up with Chad recently to get his thoughts as we approach draft day.

DLF:  Can you characterize your time at Northern Illinois and how you grew as a player?

Spann:  A learning process.  From competing to earn a scholarship freshman year, to getting a new coach and have to prove myself all over again, to almost transferring, to completely buying into what coach was teaching me, to finally putting it all together senior year, to where I am today…hoping to do this professionally.  Hell of a ride.

DLF: What are your favorite highlights from your time as a Huskie?

Spann
:  My favorite moment would have to be winning the uDrove Humanitarian Bowl last December.  Our team, and specifically my class, had been through a lot in our time at NIU.  We’re a family. My freshman year, we went 2-10 and the reason I came to DeKalb, coach Joe Novak, retired after that season. Just months later, five students were killed in a school shooting.  Fast forward to my senior season, at the end of our most successful season, we lost an absolutely heartbreaker in the MAC Championship Game.  To make it worse, Coach Kill told us he was going leaving the team to coach at Minnesota.  Seeing the way our team came together after painfully losing the conference championship and our second coach in four years to play a great bowl game was really gratifying for me. The family atmosphere we have at Northern Illinois is tremendous.

DLF:  Growing up, was your dream to eventually play in the NFL?

Spann
:  Absolutely.

DLF:  You mentioned other such smaller backs as Ahmad Bradshaw, Ray Rice and even Barry Sanders.  What does a smaller back need to do to make it at the next level? Are you confident that you can bring that?

Spann
:  I think that NFL coaches and GMs are leery to smaller running backs because they’re afraid they cannot handle the constant pounding that running backs face at professional level over a span of a 16 game schedule.  I am absolutely confident that I will be able to provide that consistency.

DLF:  Northern Illinois had their pro day not long ago, how was that experience and were you happy with your results?

Spann
:  The pro day was a little hectic.  Because I wasn’t invited to the combine, this was the first chance most of these teams would see me work out.  A lot was riding on that particular workout, especially my 40 time.  The weather wasn’t great so, I didn’t get to run at Huskie Stadium.  We ended up using a community rec center not far from campus.  Honestly, the turf was in bad condition.  Guys were slipping and falling all over the place. Fortunately, I felt I ran pretty well and the scouts liked what they saw.

DLF:  Now that your college playing days are behind you, what are you most looking forward to?  Are you nervous ahead of the NFL draft?

Spann
:  I’m anxious to just move ahead with the next step of my life, wherever that may take me.  Nervous?  No.  When, where, and if I get drafted is completely out of my hands.  If some franchise chooses to invest in me, it’ll be a blessing.  I will play anywhere.

DLF:  Where will you be on draft weekend and how will you be spending your day?

Spann
:  Honestly, I don’t want to be sitting around the tv waiting for my phone to ring for three days.  I’ll be home in Indianapolis with family, but I haven’t really planned out my day yet.  Maybe some golf.

DLF:  Do you have a preference or expectation as to where you will be drafted?

Spann
:  I’ve been a huge NFL fan for years. The draft is very unpredictable.

You really can’t put much stock in what these “draft experts” say.  I know there are a few teams that are particularly interested in me because they’ve said so to me.  I really have no preference of where I play.  I just want a chance to make a team.

DLF:  What do you want NFL teams to know about Chad Spann, the player and the person?

Spann
:  Teams should know that their getting a quality running back on and a better person off the field.  On the field, NFL teams should know that I’m the type of player who is willing to do whatever he is called to do…pass block, special teams, catch passes out of the backfield, or score touchdowns.  I’m a running back, no… person…who will fight for every last yard.

Jeff Haverlack
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gratefulydead3
11 years ago

Watching his highlight video he reminds me of a stronger, more bulked up Javon Ringer

Thanks for bring him to our attention – definitely a solid late pickup

gratefulydead3
Reply to  gratefulydead3
11 years ago

edit: well maybe not stronger.. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CIaYKgvNlAo

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