The Notre Dame Fighting Irish have a roster full of players, and we want to talk about them all. One Foot Down’s player profile series will take a look at every single one of them, and hopefully we all learn a little bit more about these guys, and Notre Dame’s chances for the upcoming 2020 season.
#90 Hunter Spears, DT
Hunter Spears is a sophomore defensive tackle from Sachse, Texas. He was the #328 overall player in the country, ranking #23 at defensive tackle and #39 in his home state. Holding in-state offers from the Texas Tech Red Raiders, Baylor Bears and TCU Horned Frogs, Spears committed to Notre Dame early in the 2019 cycle.
Spears received praise during his recruitment for his large, long frame and toughness inside, while scouts and coaches alike identified a need to add weight and strength to consistently command double teams. His length and motor made him a candidate for early playing time due to Notre Dame’s lack of experienced depth on the inside (groans in BVG era).
Unfortunately, Spears suffered an ACL injury - the second of his young career - near the end of his senior season in high school, which set back the early enrollee’s participation in practice and strength and conditioning. He did, however, manage to get mop-up minutes in three blowouts - against the New Mexico Lobos, Bowling Green Falcons and Boston College Eagles - and score two tackles in the process.
Back in the summer of 2018, Spears dropped some rap verses celebrating his Irish commitment and throwing some serious...(shade? beef? I don’t know how these youths talk anymore) at the USC Trojans, referencing their ignominious 49-14 defeat at the hands of the Irish the previous season. Hunter’s killer rhymes evidently got to the Trojans, who shut down like Papa Doc in 8 Mile and have yet to score a win in the rivalry since.
Naturally, the best possible fit for Spears’ spirit animal is another DFW-born rap god known for his love of football - including references in his songs.
Expect to see Spears early and often in 2020, now that he has had the opportunity to heal up and add strength. He won’t take on a starting role, but he will be a frequent rotational player on the interior line. Expect to see him impress particularly against the run, where his long frame will help him clog up holes. Going forward, Spears has a big future on the Irish interior line and could be a starter as early as 2021.