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The Cardinal Countdown: 81 Days Until Kickoff

Pittsburgh v Louisville Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

#81 Emonee Spence

Class: RS Junior

Ht/Wt: 6-3/189

Position: Wide Receiver

Hometown: Pembroke Pines, FL

Twitter: @Emonee_NikeMan

Thoughts: At times it’s tough to gauge the feelings of the fanbase when it comes to specific players. I have my own thoughts about how well known certain guys might be, or what I think the potential of a player is, but I’m also in the unique position of having dug into these guys at least slightly below the surface for sometimes 3-4 years, respectively. For example, to me it feels as if Spence has been on the Cards squad for close to seven or eight years when in reality this is just season number 4 for Emonee. I went back and re-read my posts on him the last few years and I get the feeling that my distorted sense of time comes from the fact that I was very high on him coming into the program back in 2015. Spence was a 4 star athlete out of high school and one of the higher rated recruits the Cards snagged that year, eclipsing a couple guys who just got drafted (Alexander/Christian). The issue for Spence, as it often is with most that experience setbacks, was the injury bug. Emonee came in as a freshman, got some reps, played in a handful of games, and was able to make an impact just months into his career. He appeared to be on a normal progression when he suffered a foot injury (Jones fracture) in the fall of 2016. The injury limited him to almost zero activity the entire year and put him in a tough spot heading into 2017 having been recruited behind and facing a physical challenge of getting back to 100%.

I called for Spence to play a supplementary role last year, knowing that Jaylen, Seth, and one of the tightends would be the major targets and the freshman Dez Fitzpatrick was rumored to be the real deal. Fast forward 365 days and I say that was fairly accurate. Those three certainly balled out but the emergence of Corey Reed as a true freshman limited Spence’s PT and had him playing fewer snaps than even I anticipated, only seeing time against Kent State, Murray State, and in the bowl game against MSU.

The story this season in the position group will change slightly, but the main characters are the same. Will Spence steal significant time from Jaylen, Dez, or Dawkins? I don’t see that happening, but what I do see is an expanded arsenal for Puma. Jaylen and Dez alone caught over 100 balls last year, a number that two players alone have not surpassed since 2013 (Parker/Copeland). If I’m a betting man I think Petrino/Puma look to spread it out a little more in 2018 and we see four players in the mid to low 40’s in total receptions with a couple more in the 20’s and another two or three in the high teens, including Mr. Spence. I’ve said it about a hundred times over the last seven years (feel free to go back and count) but it’s difficult to hide size and speed. Spence has both of those features and was showing the staff during the spring that he’s ready to make some big plays this coming season.

Sweet Tweet:

Granted, this is from back in November of 2016, but it can still hold true today. I know Emonee is working hard to get back to where he wanted to be, hope to see him reach those heights in the next couple seasons.