Spann snubbed by NFL Combine

By Andrew Singer

Chad Spann didn’t get an invitation to the NFL combine in Indianapolis, but the now-former Huskie running back is still determined as ever to reach the next level.

The departing senior is currently training for NIU’s March 16 Pro Day. Scouts from an assortment of teams will descend on DeKalb to see if Spann has the measurable attributes of an NFL running back.

Spann has been preparing for his shot at the NFL since Dec. 20.

Two days after the Huskies took down Fresno State in the uDrove Humanitarian Bowl, the NFL hopeful applied for the league’s annual combine and started preparing as if he had already received an invite.

Senior wide receiver Landon Cox knew he wouldn’t be getting an invite, but decided to get a head start on training for NIU’s Pro Day.

“I decided to start early with Chad so that he would have someone to work and compete with,” Cox said.

The former teammates have been working together to make mundane workouts as competitive as possible.

“I’ve tried to motivate him in different ways and he does the same for me,” Cox said. “Say if I do 25 reps on the bench press, he’ll try and do just one more. We’ve been pushing each other as hard as we can.”

Two months into training, Spann got word he wouldn’t be receiving an invite to the combine. Spann needed five votes from a panel of judges to get the okay. After receiving four votes, he was put on the bubble.

Spann’s place at the combine depended on how many juniors declared for the draft.

“All of the scouts have been coming and studying seniors,” Spann said in a phone interview after a late-night workout. “They haven’t seen as many juniors, so, almost all of the juniors that declared for the draft got to go to the combine.”

While the departing senior would have liked to be in Indianapolis last week, he doesn’t believe the snub will deter any interested teams from either drafting him or signing him as a free agent.

“When I found out I wouldn’t be going to the combine, all it did was make me even hungrier to do what I want to do,” Spann said. “Teams that are interested in me are still going to show up at the pro day.”

Approximately 10 players from schools across Illinois will participate in NIU’s Pro Day. Northern Illinois has made it a point of effort to give players from other schools the opportunity to make an impression on NFL scouts.

Much like the NFL combine, the NIU Pro Day will feature an array of events. While Spann is preparing for everything, there is one event in particular that he’s concentrating on.

“My Pro Day is going to come down to how fast I run my 40,” Spann said. “It actually plays to my advantage that I’ll be running at my pro day and not the combine. Being at home and being comfortable and in my own element will help me.”

As NIU’s Pro Day inches closer, Spann may begin to question whether he can make it in the NFL. At that point, he needn’t look any farther than his teammate of four years.

“He knows that he can compete with the best of them and I feel the same way,” Cox said. “So with that, I try to give as much encouragement as possible through this journey.”