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Crush Hour

Rancho Cucamonga's Spicer aims for lasting impression with his hits

September 06, 2004|Martin Henderson | Times Staff Writer

Averell Spicer is looking for a new thrill.

The 6-foot-2, 265-pound senior defensive end from Rancho Cucamonga has a variety of hits and tackles to fill a highlight reel. But Spicer is looking for something more.

"I hope to knock off a couple of helmets," Spicer said. "That's something I've never done. You see it once every blue moon. I want to do that."

And why this particular show of strength?

"It's not done very often," Spicer said. "And I've just never done it."

To hear the buzz about Spicer is to hear that there's not much he can't do on a football field.

His short list of colleges -- Nebraska, Florida State, USC, Louisiana State and Oklahoma -- give testament to that.

And, of course, Spicer has the requisite temperament for his position.

"I like getting after that quarterback," he said. "I like hitting the quarterback. They're like the pretty boys of the football field, and not many people get to get shots on them."

So, Spicer's anti-pretty boy?

"Very much."

Quarterbacks, beware.

"At the snap of the ball, whoever's across from him better be ready to go," said Chris Van Duin, Rancho Cucamonga's coach. "He's going to get beat sometimes, but he'll fight back and try to win the battle.

"He can make a play even though he is blocked or in a bad position. He has a real high intensity level and a strong desire to win."

Whether it's playing football or playing video games -- Spicer is partial to Madden 2005 right now -- he usually brings an unmatched will to win.

On the football field, where more than thumbs are required, Spicer won't get beat often. Few teams are likely to challenge him -- his goal is a rather modest 65 tackles -- and his quickness sets him apart from most linemen his size.

One recruiting service ranks him the best weak-side defensive end and sixth-best player overall in the state, and 36th-best nationally.

"We definitely expect him to play at that level," Van Duin said. "For us to be successful, he knows we need him to perform at a high, dominating level. He's ready to take on that role.

"I don't think you're going to find anyone more athletic at his position. Obviously, performance will dictate whether he's the best at his position, but in terms of ability and potential, he's the best you're going to find."

Van Duin said that Spicer was 270 pounds in the spring when he was clocked at 4.55 in the 40-yard dash.

Van Duin wants Spicer to play "a little meaner" this season. Spicer disputes the notion that he is too nice.

"I play under controlled rage," said Spicer, who had 27 sacks the last two seasons and hopes for 20 this fall. "When I go out there acting crazy, I tend to mess up. So, I like to play responsibly."

Well-rounded socially, academically and athletically -- he is carrying a 3.0 grade-point average -- Spicer's off-field temperament allows him to mix easily with others.

"He's a 'Yes sir, no sir' type kid," Van Duin said. "He knows how to conduct himself very well. He's not a bully, he's great on campus. He'll help kids, teachers, whatever he can do."

He also expects to help the offense. Nearly impossible to block, he's going to get a chance to play tailback. A breakout season will be important, because the Cougars aren't expected to be strong on offense.

"Every kid wants to be able to carry the ball and score touchdowns," Van Duin said. "He just happens to be really big."

And that could cause headaches for more than just quarterbacks.



How They Rate

A look at the top defensive linemen in the Southland:


*--* Rk Name, School Ht. Wt. Yr. Comment 1 Edward Bustamante, 6-2 263 Sr. Dependable force in the Roosevelt middle 2 Tim High, Narbonne 6-3 290 Jr. Big guy to get around 3 Jerry DeAlba, Monroe 6-3 255 Sr. Loves to chase QBs 4 Deandre Nichols, 6-2 270 Sr. Big, fast and mean Manual Arts 5 David Ikahihifo, 5-10 280 Sr. Has been tough to block in Birmingham practice 6 Arrik McQueen, North 6-1 230 Sr. Defensive end with Hollywood quickness 7 Chinonso Anyanwu, 6-4 215 Sr. 12 sacks as a junior Crenshaw 8 Ben Viramontes, South 6-0 180 Jr. Defensive end had 13 sacks Gate 9 John Garth, El Camino 6-2 240 Sr. Strongest player at ECR Real



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