Diontae Spencer’s legacy begins at McNeese
Diontae Spencer, the fastest man on the planet grew up in the small town of New Iberia, Louisiana. Growing up in a small town, he wasn’t given a lot of attention coming out of high school.
Without much attention in high school, Spencer wasn’t given a lot of University/College offers. Spencer committed to the University of McNeese State. With the Cowboys, Diontae put up incredible numbers everywhere on the stat sheet. He produced 1,248 yards and 12 touchdowns in receiving, while he also helped the passing game with a 46 yard touchdown pass in the 2013-14 season against Central Arkansas. Along with the air game, he also rushed for 214 yards and 2 touchdowns. To cap it all off, he also returned kicks and punts for over 1,200 yards and 3 touchdowns.
One more super natural stat for you guys would be his 365 all-purpose yard, 5 touchdown game against Stephen F. Austin. Where he caught 2 touchdowns and returned for 3, yep that’s right, the really hard touchdowns, like the really rare ones, he got 3 in one game!
Coming out of University, the sky was the limit for Spencer. He was being looked at by both the Chicago Bears and St. Louis Rams. After going through workouts after the draft, Spencer signed with the Rams. Even though Diontae was a favorite player for McNeese fans, the Rams went on without him.
Diontae Spencer visits Canada
After going through all of 2014 as a free agent, the Toronto Argonauts signed the speedy receiver/returner. Spencer spent both 2015 and 2016 with Toronto, where he’d play receiver with veteran Chad Owens, while taking return duties as a side job.
Spencer showed off his 4.3 speed catching over 100 passes from Trevor Harris and Ricky Ray for over 1,200 yards. While receiving for 6 touchdowns, Spencer used his supernatural speed to return over 65 kicks.
After spending 2 productive seasons in Toronto, Diontae became a free agent once again.
Spencer breaks records in the nation’s capital
On February 15th, 2017, Spencer’s life changed. He was signed by the reigning Grey Cup champions Ottawa Redblacks. Without knowing what was next, Spencer would replace both receivers Ernest Jackson and Chris Williams who both provided the Redblacks with constitutive 1,000 yard seasons.
In training camp, Spencer was given all return duties along with a starting job on the offense.
The speedy receiver showed the Redblacks just how big the pickup was early in the season. In just week two of the CFL season, the REDBLACKS traveled to Calgary, where Diontae would show off his 4.3 speed. In just his second game in plaid, Diontae caught just 3 catches for 107 yards, returned 10 kicks for 254 yards and had 2 total touchdowns. He provided the Redblacks with 361 all-purpose yards in the second game for them.
After showing the team what he can do early on, he continued to impress.
On October 27th, the Redblacks faced the Hamilton Tiger-Cats at TD Place. Against the Eastern rival, Spencer set a record. A record which was set for all leagues, the NFL, NCAA, and CFL. He had the most all-purpose yards gained in one game by a individual.
Spencer gained 496 all purpose yards against the Tiger-Cats.
After a 1,000 yard season in 2017, Spencer would do it again in 2018 being named a CFL All-Star in both seasons, the Ottawa Redblacks were provided with 5,458 total yards to go with the 16 touchdowns he scored with the Ottawa Redblacks.
Spence show comes to Pittsburgh
The 2 year career in Ottawa was cut short due to an offer of a lifetime. On January 4th, 2019 he was signed by the Pittsburgh Steelers of the NFL.
Lil’ Z: You spent two incredible seasons here in Ottawa, where you built relationships on and off the field, what is it like for you to leave Ottawa?
Spencer: “I think me leaving lost a lot of friendships. I wouldnt say I left, I’m just not going to be around for a while. I created some great bonds with people back there, and I’m (going) to miss it. When you could actually play football with friends, its something else, it was much easier and very exciting to go out there and know that you’re playing with your friends, teammates and friends are two very different relationships, and thats what made my experience in Ottawa great. We weren’t just teammates, we were al friends, so that is something I will be missing out on in Ottawa. I feel like that, and the relationships around the city will be missed also, I met so many great people in Ottawa, and I hope that Pittsburgh gives me a similar impact.“
Lil’ Z: What do you have to say about the coaches and players you played with in Ottawa?
Spencer: “It was a great coaching staff! I feel like the coaches made it a lot easier to go out there and play football. When you have coaches that work as hard as they do, they’re in their offices working every single day. If we have a day off (Campbell) is still working. They’re all committed to what they do, and that is the best part about it, they’re committed and dedicated to win.”
Lil’ Z: After spending two seasons in Ottawa, you built great relationships here, have you kept in touch with any players or coaches in Ottawa?
Spencer: “Yeah, I talk to pretty much everybody I played with there, I even talk to a few coaches and managers here and there. My roommate was Greg (Ellingson), so even though we all are on different teams, the bond doesn’t break. I talk to Willy P (Powell), Sir V (Vincent Rogers) all of them on a daily.”
Lil’ Z: After Ottawa lost you and Ellingson in Free Agency, RJ Harris was given the starting role, what do you have to say about RJ’s transition to starting receiver?
Spencer: “I feel like he could have done this all last year. He could have played a bigger role in the offense. The team had too much talent last year that guys started to forget about him, with Brad, Greg and Willy P (Powell) teams left him (Harris) as a wide open target a lot of the time. Last year, even though he could have done more, he learnt a lot. He was behind Sinopoli and Ellingson who experienced a lot in their careers, and I think that helped him out for what he’s done this season. I’m not surprised of what he’s doing, he is an athlete.”
Lil’ Z: In January you were signed by the Pittsburgh Steelers of the NFL, what was going through your head when you got the call to play for the Steelers?
Spencer: “I honestly didn’t think much of it. Going into the off-season, in the last weeks of he CFL season I was getting messages and invites for workouts. A few days after the Grey Cup, I actually had a workout. After all, I already knew that I was going to take this path when my contact expired, so it when I got the call, the news that I got was more which team I’d be going to.”
Lil’ Z: After spending 4 seasons in the CFL, you’re a rookie once again in the NFL, what has the transition to the NFL been like so far?
Spencer: “Its been a smooth transition. I get the “Rookie” label, but the guys around me see me as a mature and experienced player. I’ve gone through 4 more seasons than many of the guys around me, and the coaches and players know that. I’m looked at more as a mentor than I am as a rookie. No matter what level of professional sports, the coaches say that I have experience to be a great role model for the guys younger than me and I try to carry that with me everyday I step onto the field.”
Lil’ Z: You are new to the NFL, but you spent 4 seasons in the CFL where you ad a few great seasons. Has the success that you had in Canada translated to the NFL?
Spencer: “It is. I can be very productive in this league. I just need the reps to show it. In Toronto I was given the same situation, I was new to the league but wasnt given enough reps, so I was placed on the practice squad, I hope I can get the reps I’ve been getting so far, and I’ll prove what I can do. The 4 seasons in the CFL helped the coaches realize who and what they’re dealing with, but now I have to prove it to them in person.”
Lil’ Z: With the coaches aware of what you’ve done in your career and to know what you’re capable of, has that helped you get more reps, or more looks at camp so far?
Spencer: “I wouldn’t say I’ve gotten more reps because of that, but its definitely helped me get where I am today. Without the time in the CFL, almost nobody would know what I can do, and now I’m in the NFL because of those 4 seasons. With my experience in the CFL, I know that I showed consistency, and in football that is a huge aspect to the game. At this level, everyone is a good athlete, but what makes and breaks a career is if you can be a good athlete every single tie you step foot on the field. The fact that I’ve shown consistency on film and now at camp, I believe that is going to help get more reps, but the other stats and experience shouldn’t help get the ball more.”
Lil’ Z: You are now in week two of Steelers training camp, what kind of reps have you gotten? Are you working with specials along with offense?
Spencer: “Oh yeah, without offense you have to learn the whole playbook. Whether its jumping in with the 2s the 3s or even the 1s, you’ve got to always know what is happening. Even on special teams, I get back there and I’ve been returning a little bit. Everyone is getting a chance at everything, and I’m just showing what I’m made of.”
Lil’ Z: Now with the Steelers, you’ve been getting the chance to play with some of the all time great athletes such as Big Ben and Juju Smith Schuster. What has it been like being in the same lockeroom as these guys?
Spencer: “Its cool, these guys are all very dominant on the field and throughout the NFL they are household names. Just the way they approach the game and the whole aspect of it, you want to make sure that when you’re out there you’re on the top of their game so you don’t let all those guys down. They’re all great players and I’m just extremely happy to be a part of it!”
Lil’ Z: As a kid, you dream of playing in the NFL, what is it like living a childhood dream?
Spencer: “I mean its cool. I wake up everyday and say how blessed I am and how I’m able to play this game. Looking back at it now, all the hard work I’ve put in and still putting in its finally paying off. I’m excited!”
As Diontae continues to strive his goals with the Pittsburgh Steelers, us at Rnation wish him the best of luck going forward with his career.