When you’re the son of a coach, you can count on getting a few tips on your play from your father.
But Ohio State sophomore receiver Evan Spencer doesn’t mind dishing out a few pointers during discussions with his dad, Tim Spencer, a former star running back and coach for the Buckeyes who’s now an assistant with the Chicago Bears.
“I try to talk to him every day, especially after games,” Evan Spencer said. “And after he gives me criticisms on my games, I’ll watch the Bears games and give him criticisms on what they did wrong. It’s a two-way street.”
The younger Spencer has started to earn a bigger role with the Buckeyes. He had career-high three catches against Penn State last week, two of which were third-down conversions.
He’s still the third receiver behind junior Philly Brown and sophomore Devin Smith, but the Buckeyes flood the field with as many as five wideouts, giving Spencer plenty of chances to shine.
“After every season, me and my dad sit down and talk about extra things I can improve on,” he said. “I made it a point, especially this year, to just bust my butt and do everything I can, watch extra film if I have to. I just want to do anything I can to better myself as a player.”
His diligence hasn’t gone unnoticed by receivers coach Zach Smith.
“It’s obviously he’s been around the game, and he has a great family,” Smith said. “I know the Buckeye Nation is familiar with his dad. You can tell they raised him to be a great young man and have taught him how to prepare as a football player. That’s something you have to teach a player as a coach, but he’s already learned it.
“I think his best attribute is his commitment and passion for the game. He’s got great hands. That was never an issue. The first week, I felt he’d catch anything that was thrown to him…. He’s performing at a different level. He’s blocking better. I have more confidence in him because I know he’s harder on himself than I’ll ever be.”
His father is third in career rushing at OSU, and Spencer grew up around some of the program’s all-time greats, including former Heisman Trophy winner Eddie George. After graduating from Vernon Hills High School in Illinois, he was offered scholarships by Notre Dame, Nebraska and Wisconsin, but Spencer had his heart set on becoming a Buckeye.
“When it came down to it, it was an easy decision. This was home to me,” he said. “I grew up 10 years here and then moved to finish high school in Chicago. This was basically coming back home.
“I’ve been around the Buckeyes my whole life. Probably my best memory was the (2002) national championship, being on the field with my dad and mom and brother after the game. To this day, I still get chills thinking about it.”