Florida International U

FIU Panthers freshman Silas Spearman lets running do talking

Silas Spearman III came to FIU as the Palm Beach County Offensive Player of the Year. Five games into his collegiate career, Spearman owns the FIU single-game record for yards rushing by a freshman.

So, you would understand a little ego, a little swagger. Spearman doesn’t indulge.

Ask him about his 2012 season at Loxahatchee Seminole Ridge High, when he gained 1,258 rushing yards and scored 12 touchdowns, and Spearman replies:

“We started off kind of slow. We had a whole new line from the previous year. We had to get the team chemistry. Defense is easy. For defense to come out and work together as a unit, you just have to be aggressive. Offense is more like team chemistry. We had to really care for each other, not let each other down. That’s how we blossomed into the team we ended up having.”

There’s not a first-person singular pronoun in there. He didn’t mention his two interceptions as a cornerback or his kickoff return for a touchdown.

Actually, the above sounds a little like FIU, which doesn’t have a single offensive lineman returning as a starter in the same position and had trouble running the ball before Saturday’s victory against Southern Mississippi.

Granted, Southern Miss’ run defense is allowing 201.0 yards per game. But this week’s opponent, Alabama-Birmingham, allows 193.2 rushing yards per game, so there might be more Spearman in this game.

After running for 136 yards on 29 carries last Saturday, Spearman gave all the credit to the offensive line and even apologized for a miscommunication that led to the media waiting 20 minutes for him.

Spearman does possess confidence in his ability. He’s not tall, only 5-8, but he possesses a strong, square shape a little reminiscent of Bengals cornerback Adam Jones. In fact, Spearman played cornerback and running back throughout high school.

He transferred from West Palm Beach Dwyer’s powerful program and, under the encouragement from Seminole Ridge coach Matt Dickman, got his academic situation solidified.

“It was always pushed at home, but it’s different coming from coaches …

“When I transferred to Seminole Ridge High School, they had an opening at corner right away,” he said. “Me being an athlete, I just jumped in and played corner to help the team. Coming into senior year, our starting running back left for college. Our coach told me he needed me to play both ways. So, I stepped up and played running back for the team also. I just happened to blossom at it.”

Apollo Wright and Todd Orlando, the running backs coach and defensive coordinator, respectively, under previous FIU coach Mario Cristobal, recruited Spearman.

He said they hadn’t made an offer to him at the time of Cristobal’s firing because they wanted to wait to see what happened with Boston College, which was also recruiting Spearman. After FIU hired Ron Turner, Wright remained on staff through the recruiting season.

“I didn’t know if he’d been offered or had committed, but I liked him a lot on film,” Turner said.

“What we saw on Saturday — burst, quickness, good vision, hard runner, [the] ability to make people miss and the ability to break some tackles. The more and more he’s played, that’s what he’s shown. He’s been running the ball hard, especially as he got comfortable with the offense.”

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