By James Butler
Typically the last day of school is not a day in which one expects a high school football player to sign a letter of intent to his future college.
Even if it happens chances are the signee doesn’t have more potential than Mount Zion’s Shakia Spencer. Spencer, a 6-foot-7, 295-pound offensive tackle, signed to attend Arkansas Baptist College this past Wednesday. And it was a decision that provided him relief from college choice anxiety.
“I wasn’t sure which college I should go to,” Spencer said on his decision to attend the historically black junior college. “I didn’t want to be quick to choose one and then miss out on something good. I just took my time and waited and Arkansas Baptist came along.”
Spencer received offers from a couple of other schools within the past few months, but it was Arkansas Baptist’s offer that stayed on the table after seeing him perform at a combine back in March when other schools reneged.
“I guess they decided not to go with me since I took so long to choose,” Spencer said of his one-time offers.
One of the reasons Spencer is an intriguing prospect is because his senior year was his first full high school football season. He played as a freshman at Berkmar, but tore his ACL. Over the next year and a half he would attend Norcross, Duluth, and Gadsden High School (Ala.), before enrolling at Mount Zion, where he also played two years of basketball.
His absence from the gridiron also meant he wasn’t too familiar with the recruiting process, but Mount Zion head coach Kevin Jones was able to help navigate him through it.
Jones, who finished his first season with the Bulldogs, was impressed with how the inexperienced Spencer fared on the field.
“The speed of the game was difficult for him initially, but he is incredibly strong,” Jones said. “He’s [also] a fast learner. Those two things helped him tremendously. Some of the teams we played such as the Griffins and the Whitewaters had some really good players and he had to adjust.”
Jones likes that Spencer has long arms and after coaching current Buffalo Bill starting left tackle Cordy Glenn during his one-year Riverdale stint in 2007 and coaching against former Mundy’s Mill and University of Maryland lineman Lamar Young, he thinks Spencer’s natural talent is comparable.
“Had Shakia played four years I would have been comparing him to those two kids when they played in high school,” Jones said. “Height wise he’s actually bigger than those two right now. He’s blessed with some very good footwork when he knows what he’s doing. Had he played four years he probably would have been one of the most dominant offensive linemen to come out of Clayton County.”
After only playing one season, Spencer will be missed at Mount Zion, but the Bulldogs will look to improve on their 2-8 record.
“It’s like night and day,” Jones said of his second spring practice at the school compared to his first. “We had some great competition going on. Last year we only had 53 kids at spring practice, this year we had 85.”
Jones said rising junior running back Emmanuel Clark had a good spring game, while returning starter Lenox Copeland (WR/S) also looked solid.
“I think if they really listen to coach Jones and they really pay attention to him, I know Mount Zion can have the best football team they’ve had in a while,” Spencer said.
Meanwhile, Spencer himself has some big goals for himself for the next couple of years. Spencer wants to eventually play major college football.
“UGA, Georgia Tech, and Alabama, but I have my hopes up for UGA,” Spencer said.
He hasn’t been in contact with those schools so he knows his play in junior college will be what will get him noticed.
“I’m going to show what I can do,” he said. “Even if it doesn’t mean I’m the best, I know I can get better.”