Hunter Spears is three months removed from an ACL tear, but the knee injury isn’t slowing down the rising junior defensive end. He visited Cal and Stanford this past week and left the Bay Area with an offer from the Golden Bears.
The Cal offer was appreciated by Spears because it came while he is recovering from knee surgery and the quality of the university.
Spears is not just a football player with offers from Alabama, Notre Dame and others. He also finished his sophomore year with a 4.5 GPA and is interested in either going the medical school route or getting an MBA.
Weakside defensive end
It’s understandable then that Spears’ first trip to California focused on several top elite academic schools and found him on The Farm for the June 21 junior day. His first impression of the university was eye opening.
“When you get there the whole Stanford campus is amazing and beautiful,” he said. “The facilities are top notch. The coaches are super welcoming. It seems like a great environment. Right off the bat it felt like a good place to be.”
Stanford’s quarterback/receivers coach Tavita Pritchard recruits Spears’ area of Texas and the two have talked “a lot,” Spears said. Pritchard has come by Sachse High a couple times to check in on Spears, including a visit after Spears’ surgery.
Once on Stanford’s campus Spears talked with head coach David Shaw and defensive line coach Diron Reynolds. He enjoyed learning about Reynolds’ coaching philosophy and overall said it was “good to meet everybody.”
Like most of the college coaches he talks to, Stanford’s staff told Spears he shouldn’t try to play his junior season. According to Spears, Reynolds assured the 2019 recruit that he is near the top of their defensive line board and doesn’t need to rush back to the field to prove anything.
During his sophomore season Spears finished with 57 tackles, 11 TFL and four sacks against Division 6A competition.
As soon as he’s healthy and able to show he’s back to moving like he was before the injury then Stanford -- along with a number of other schools -- will check in on how he looks.
And for his part Spears said he does not plan to commit to a school until he shows he’s 100 percent back to pre-injury form.
“I don't want to put that on anybody,” he said of verbally committing to a school that may have concerns about his knee.
And if the Cardinal were to offer the academically accomplished defensive lineman: “I've always loved Stanford because of how special that degree is and if you go there you can almost change the world,” he said. “Seeing all these people there that are doing so much with life ... it really spoke to me that you can go there to play top-notch football and have the best education in the United States. You can walk out with something more than football.”