2016 Recruiting: Stephen Spanellis Comment Count

Brian June 17th, 2016 at 11:51 AM

Previously: Last year's profiles. S Josh Metellus, S Khaleke Hudson, CB David Long, CB Lavert Hill, LB Elysee Mbem-Bosse, LB Devin Bush Jr., LB Devin Gil, LB Josh Uche, DE Ron Johnson, DT Michael Dwumfour, DT Rashan Gary, DE Carlo Kemp, OL Ben Bredeson, OL Michael Owenu.

       
Baltimore, MD – 6'5", 330
       

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Scout 3*, NR overall
#54 OT
Rivals 3*, NR overall
#36 OT, #16 MD
ESPN 3*, NR overall
#60 OT, #27 MD
24/7 3*, #999 overall
#50 OG, #26 MD
Other Suitors UVA, MD, ARK, MSU, VT, Tenn
YMRMFSPA Ben Braden
Previously On MGoBlog Hello post from Ace.
Notes Twitter. Gilman (Henry Poggi). UVA decommit.

Film

His Hudl film won't embed but is here if you're curious.

Dear reader, I have to admit that after three of the last four profiles covered two camp-friendly, massively-scouted offensive linemen and Rashan Freakin' Gary it is a considerable relief to arrive at a generic three-star. Stephen Spanellis's scouting reports are mostly "is large man, next," and this is fine. I do not have to first paste 5000 words into a template and then hew that down to ~1800. I can take 1800 and produce somewhat less than that. This is a long and solipsistic way of saying Spanellis is a bit of a project.

One thing that won't require work: his size. Spanellis is a biglarge hugedude. ESPN, which you may remember said Michael Ownenu had "nice" size as if he was not a super-dense space cyborg, is willing to confirm this:

…excellent overall size at this stage for a projected interior player. Possesses a good combination of height and bulk, but needs to watch how he adds size as frame at this point looks close to its ceiling

Tim Drevno focuses on that for his MGoBlue evaluation:

Stephen is a big, big man; he wears a size 18 shoe. … the type of guy who can really move people off the ball. He has great arm length, plays with good initial quickness, and can finish blocks.

As do his coaches:

“He’s a huge kid, 6-5, 330 right now,” Gilman assistant coach Henry Russell said. “He’s in excellent shape for that size and he’s extremely strong. Strongest player on our team. He has an unbelievable work ethic. First one in the weight room, last one to leave."

Spanellis's recruitment confirms this: these days an Arkansas offer more or less confirms you're one of the 20 biggest OL in any particular recruiting class. Check.

Assets other than his ability to provide shade are somewhat limited right now. Every once in a while you get an assertion that Spanellis could be a tackle in college, but the majority of reports say he'd get eaten up on the edge and can only play on the interior. Scout's evaluation of his game can't go a sentence without throwing in a "but":

…aggressive and finishes blocks, but he needs to improve his footwork so he can stay on a block better. He comes out of his stance quickly, but he needs to lighten his feet and drive his legs more in run blocking. He uses his strength and initial punch in pass blocking but needs to improve lateral quickness.

Aggression, power, size, and tenacity are assets—hey not bad!—and explosion, feet, and pass protection are areas to improve—uh. Clint Brewster's evaluation is a version of the above that's a bit nicer:

…excels in the straight-ahead run game as a mauler type of offensive lineman that Michigan looks for. He's physical upon contact and uses his body to overpower defensive lineman and drive them into the ground. Spanellis has some fluid movements to be able to turn his body on down blocks and cut off defenders.

ESPN's report does sound like their ranking for once, down to a serious lack of editing:

Displays good, but not quite the type of strength you may expect from size …doesn't display a powerful punch … doesn't display ideal lateral mobility to mirror. … Can use body and size to engulf and wall off defenders at times. Could struggle to adjust to moving targets, but displays good ability to locate and use angles to get a hit on second level targets. … a mid-to-lower Power-5 or Group of 5 [prospect].

Touch The Banner:

"…does a decent job of bending and maintaining leverage on run plays. He finishes plays, driving people into the ground. He does a good job of working combo blocks up to the second level. … heavy feet and a thick lower body. He’s not a player who will hold up well against edge rushers, and he needs significant work in pass protection. He will need to work on his stance and footwork.

Spanellis's run blocking comes in for praise on the regular and is almost always followed by a "but" as the analyst describes heavy feet and iffy pass protection. Right now he's a big straight-ahead guy without much versatility; he's going to need some serious Drevno time before he's ready to see the field.

Spanellis should have the mental makeup to succeed. The UVA commit when he had other, more pig-shaped options indicates a guy who's interested in academics and from time to time you'll see an analyst note his football IQ. Adam Friedman:

"…shines as a run blocker, that’s really his game. He understands blocking schemes and who needs to get to the second level, where the double team is. He holds the point of attack very well. …very smart. He understands some of the things that you need to look for as an offensive lineman. He understands protection schemes.”

Being able to hack it in a classroom is a skill at least somewhat correlated with the ability to make split second decisions, and Spanellis appears to already be translating that kind of thing to the field. Knowing what to do against a blizzard of different fronts, slants, stunts, and other stupid defense tricks is more than half the battle for a lineman.

Spanellis might have more upside than it sounds above if he ends up at 300 and can suddenly move pretty well, or it was his footwork that was the main issue; either way it's pretty obvious he's got a long way to go compared to the other two OL in the class.

Etc.: MSU was actually his first offer. If you'd like to compare him to—sigh—former commit Devery Hamilton, Rivals says he's a better run blocker but "not as smooth" and "stiffer."

Why Ben Braden? Braden was also a simply enormous OL prospect who some people thought could play tackle despite some questions about his feet and general mobility. Like Spanellis, he was a middling three star. Braden started out at tackle, actually starting there as a redshirt freshman, before his pass protection issues forced him inside. He matured into a solid Big Ten guard over the course of last season and has a senior year yet to go.

Braden is a couple inches taller than Spanellis, which is to Spanellis's advantage. Braden's had problems with lunging for much of his career; Spanellis is more compact and should have fewer issues in that department. Spanellis should be able to match Braden's football IQ; he is a high-academic kid.

Guru Reliability: High. Gilman is a heavily scouted school and Spanellis was healthy. Not much disagreement in rankings or reports.

Variance: High. Very big guy with a long way to go.

Ceiling:  Moderate. Doesn't seem like he'll ever be the kind of OL who's able to zone particularly well, which puts a cap on his upside. Does promise to be a big pile-mover, and Harbaugh Harbaugh Harbaugh.

General Excitement Level: Moderate. Seems like a smart dude and Drevno's polished up a lot of guys like him until they're very shiny.

Projection: Redshirt. He'll be a long shot in 2017 for the three open spots, and then a long shot in 2018 for the one or two that will open up then. By the time he's a redshirt junior he should be rounding into whatever his finished product is going to look like. Assuming that Bredeson ends up staying outside he'll have a decent shot of being a two-year starter at guard.

Comments

boliver46

June 17th, 2016 at 12:04 PM ^

is a mauler and finishes blocks...something that was a "knock" on Onwenu.  Not quite the planetoid that Onwenu is, but is plenty huge enough.  I look forward to seeing he and Uluzio using their "low" rankings as motivation and becoming solid contributors on the two-deep!

Rabbit21

June 17th, 2016 at 12:57 PM ^

Even if he's a project there's room for that on the roster and I really liked his aggression on the highlight video.  When the whole Swenson thing went down the contrast in their film was noticeable and it made sense why the staff offered him.  

I think he'll be good road grader in a couple years type and a founding member of the "nails for breakfast" club.  

Reader71

June 17th, 2016 at 12:52 PM ^

YMRMFSPA - Leo Henige

That's going back a ways, but I don't think Braden is a good comparison. Body and movement wise, Henige is a great comparison, and he turned into a multiple-year starter, if I'm not mistaken.

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June 17th, 2016 at 5:39 PM ^

A perfect fit for Harbaugh/Drevno.  I'm gonna say this kid will significantly outperform his ratings.  Can't wait to watch his progress, along with other 3 star guys.

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