Howard's Spencer speeding onto football recruiting radar
Tyair Spencer had the size.
He had the hands.
And now, he has the speed.
Howard’s 6-foot-3, 205-pound senior receiver didn’t sit at home last spring when schools shut down statewide due to the coronavirus. He used the time to increase his speed and agility, and it could help turn him into a major-college recruit as Howard chases a second consecutive DIAA Division II championship.
“There were times last year when there was definitely an unfair advantage size wise,” Howard coach Dan Ritter said. “We’re hoping this year, it’s not a matter of size. It’s a matter of speed, and he just literally is wide open.”
On the first play of the new year last Saturday, Spencer showed how wide open he can get. He rocketed past a Newark defender, then softly cradled a 22-yard touchdown pass from Donovan Cartwright for the first points of the Wildcats’ 48-12 victory.
“He’s a lot more agile, a lot quicker off the ball,” Cartwright said. “He worked on his starts, so he can get off the ball and shake people.”
Then, he accelerates.
“I did a lot more running than I did last year,” Spencer said. “That definitely helped me with my speed this year, being able to blow by defenders.”
Spencer caught 27 passes for 660 yards and six touchdowns during the regular season last year. In the playoffs, he caught a TD pass against Archmere, threw a surprise scoring pass in the semifinals against Delmar, and made a spectacular, one-handed grab for the first points in a 16-15 win over Woodbridge in the championship game.
“He’s got some of the softest hands I’ve seen,” Ritter said. “There aren’t too many balls that hit the ground when they’re thrown at him.”
That gives his quarterback confidence.
“It’s a bigger catch radius,” Cartwright said. “I can throw it anywhere, really. But I try to pick my spots to give him the best chance to catch the ball.”
“He can just throw it up to me and trust that I’m going to go get it,” Spencer said.
He isn’t afraid to go across the middle, either. Spencer turned a short toss from Cartwright into a crucial first down on third-and-9 late in last year’s championship game, allowing the Wildcats to run out the clock and secure the school’s second state title.
“We just connect, automatically,” Spencer said. “There’s no doubt about it. Especially in crucial moments, that’s automatic.”
This year, his coach is hoping the deep ball becomes automatic. Spencer got behind the defense again on Howard’s first possession of the second half last week, hauling in a 41-yard score with ease. He finished with five catches for 103 yards and two TDs.
Spencer already has offers from Merrimack, Central Connecticut State, Morgan State, Delaware State and Long Island, plus interest from Monmouth and VMI. But he is hoping the recruiting radar expands.
“That’s really my plan, to have a great year this year and then bring some more interest in,” Spencer said.
Ritter believes it will happen. He said Spencer is selfless, a good teacher for the younger players. And now he has added the only thing that was missing – speed.
“I think that’s going to be the difference between the scholarships he has now and the possibility of getting a big, Power 5-type scholarship,” Ritter said. “When they finally see that he can run, as well as catch and look at his size, I think he becomes the complete player.”
Contact Brad Myers at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter: @BradMyersTNJ