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It's Ohio State for Vernon Hills' Spencer
By Patricia Babcock McGraw | Daily Herald Staff

Vernon Hills' Evan Spencer has committed to Ohio State.


Paul Michna | Staff Photographer

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Published: 6/7/2010 11:05 PM

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That was fast.

It didn't take long for the autograph seekers at Ohio State to sniff out the hottest new football star in town.

They got to Evan Spencer during his visit to the school in April.

"We were there for the spring football game," said the standout Vernon Hills wide receiver, who just completed his junior year. "I signed about five or six autographs. My dad did, too. We just had to walk away after awhile, otherwise we would have missed the entire game signing autographs."

Keep in mind this happened long before Spencer even committed to become a Buckeye.

Just think of how many autographs he might be asked to sign now that he's actually made things somewhat official.

On Saturday, Spencer verbally committed to play his college football at Ohio State, the same place his father Tim played football and also coached for many years as an assistant.

The autograph seekers who fondly remembered Tim, who left his coaching gig at Ohio State to become a running backs coach with the Chicago Bears, were all over the fact that Evan could be the latest Spencer to star in Columbus.

"I'm really not going around thinking about all that too much and I'm not going to get a big head about it or anything," Spencer said of the unexpected autograph session. "But, it still was kind of cool."

Even cooler is the fact that the 6-foot, 178-pound Spencer, who is ranked by ESPN as the 18th-best receiver in the country, can now chill out on the college recruiting. He's spent months trying to sort through all the hype and rhetoric.

After recently whittling down a long list, Spencer was still seriously considering quite a few schools - Wisconsin, Illinois, Notre Dame, Iowa, Minnesota, Purdue, Oregon, Nebraska and Cincinnati - before finally choosing Ohio State.

"As I started to narrow down my choices, I just realized Ohio State was the best fit for me," said Spencer, who caught 14 touchdowns last fall in spite of having to share the limelight with teammate DeVaris Daniels.

Daniels, who has yet to commit but is in a similar recruiting position with dozens of major Division I offers on the table, is ranked as the 15th-best wide receiver in the country.

"I was impressed with everything at Ohio State," Spencer said. "I know a lot of the coaches because they were there when my dad was coaching there. I just felt really comfortable. I could see myself at Ohio State so I just pulled the trigger."

Spencer was anxious to do so.

He says he is super relieved to have this decision out of the way.

"The whole recruiting thing is a cool process," Spencer said. "But at the same time, it kind of gets old. I just felt it was time for me to make a decision because I really wanted to get the process over with. I wanted to focus on (the upcoming) season and getting ready for that."

In the past, Spencer has prepared for football season by going to camps. He says that his performance at a camp last summer that was attended by various scouts and coaches really sent his stock soaring.

The coaches at Ohio State became even more interested when they saw Spencer up close and personal at their own camp.

"I was born in San Diego but then we moved right away to Columbus so my dad could coach (at Ohio State) and I was there until I was about 11 and that's when we moved here," Spencer said. "When I went to the Ohio State camp last year, Coach (Jim) Tressel (Ohio State's head coach) was like, 'You've gotten so big. The last time I saw you, you were so young.'

"It's kind of funny that he saw me kind of grow up and now I'm going to be playing football there for him."

Vernon Hills coach Tony Monken says that Spencer is tailor-made for the Ohio State program, and not just because of his bloodlines.

"There are other receivers who may be rated higher than Evan, but the recruiting coach from Ohio State told me that he is the perfect fit for their program," Monken said. "It has to do with his speed and size and how he extends his hands and arms away from his body when he catches the ball. He's also a strong runner with the ball and each stride he takes, he gets faster. He went downstate this year in track for the 100 and he kind of has that track speed on the football field.

"Each year, he's gotten better for us and last year was kind of a breakout year for him. He was exceptional."

Monken and Spencer expect the upcoming season to be even better for the Cougars, with Spencer and Daniels hitting the peak of their high school careers together.

Spencer says he would love for Daniels to then continue on with him to Ohio State, but he doesn't put on any pressure.

"If it happens, it happens, I would love it, don't get me wrong," Spencer said. "But I want DaVaris to make his own decision."

If Daniels does elect to go elsewhere, at least Spencer will regularly see at least one familiar face in Columbus.

His mom Gilda, who also happens to be a graduate of Ohio State, which is where she met Tim, works for Nationwide. The company's headquarters are in Columbus and she regularly goes there for business.

"I'm sure I'll get to see my mom a lot, which will be good," Spencer said. "When I run out of food, maybe she can take me out for lunch."