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January 7, 2011
Spiller makes impression at Army combine
MORE ARMY BOWL: Standouts, surprises at combine | Announcement watch | Complete coverage
SAN ANTONIO - C.J. Spiller made an appearance at Friday's U.S. Army National Combine and his message was two-fold: One was to advertise for adidas' new lightest football cleat ever made, the adiZero 5-Star, and to also give the junior prospects pointers on the recruiting process and their futures.
Wearing a red and black adidas sweat suit and sneakers, Spiller, a Buffalo Bills running back who starred at Clemson and played in the 2006 Army All-American Bowl, also helped with a brief workout as a handful of recruits tested out the new adidas cleats.
"I really liked them," South Bend (Ind.) Washington wide receiver Gehrig Dieter said. "It was a lot easier to cut and you can feel how light your feet are. I'm going to wear them for games next year."
Spiller also talked with the prospects about the recruiting process, what he felt was important during it and what it takes to get drafted. Patience was a key component of Spiller's speech along with enjoying the ride along the way.
"You want to get to the NFL because that's your long-time dream but you have to understand it's a slow process," said Spiller, who wore the adiZero 5-Star shoe in last weekend's game against the New York Jets. "You have to finish up high school, you have to finish up college and all the other things that go with it.
"The main thing I want the guys to know is they should enjoy it. Enjoy your college life because it's fun but once you make it to the NFL don't think you arrived because you can always get better. That's what I meant by it's a slow process. You can't rush it. You have to enjoy these moments now and develop good friendships."
Dieter, a 6-foot-3, 210-pound receiver who has a Bowling Green offer and said Notre Dame, Ohio State and Oregon are three early favorites, said he took Spiller's messages to heart.
In at least one way, Dieter and Spiller share a common story. A five-star rated as the eighth-best prospect in the 2006 class by Rivals.com, Spiller played his high school ball at Lake Butler (Fla.) Union County, less than an hour from Florida's campus.
There was pressure to play for the Gators but Spiller said he did his own research and wanted to find the best fit for him. He felt Clemson was the spot. With Dieter, he's a South Bend native and loves the Irish but said he plans to evaluate all his options before making a decision. Spiller's message spoke to Dieter.
"You have to do research on each school," Spiller said. "You have to see which schools are looking at you the most and talk to people who are somewhat familiar with that school and talk to guys that are already there. That's what I did. I did my own homework. The coaches will come in and tell you anything. You have to find what fits your skills best.
"You have to surround yourself with good people because you're going to have everybody pulling at you. Everybody is going to want you to go here and go there plus you're still in high school doing your schoolwork with football. Sometimes it can get stressful but let it all play out. Like I told the guys, go where you feel you want to go. Don't let anybody else influence you."
Dieter said: "Notre Dame is up there of course. It's my hometown and it's a great tradition and a great football team. I went to Ohio State for a couple camps and a couple games this year and I was really impressed with the facilities and the coaches, the atmosphere. It was a great place to be. And then Oregon is just Oregon. You can't really say much more."
What Spiller also talked about was the hunger to be the best. Some of the nation's top juniors were at the Army combine and listened intently as a former five-star, No. 1 all-purpose back, top 10 prospect and now NFL running back spoke.
Spiller said it's all about never being satisfied.
"I always said once you make it to Canton, Ohio, then that's when you've arrived," he said. "That's the biggest thing young guys can learn coming into the NFL is that it's just a new starting point.
"I want to prove to everybody that I'm the best player. I want to show everybody I'm the best player. I have confidence in my ability. I look at the other guys who got drafted in front of me and I see it like those were teams telling me that I wasn't good enough for their organization. I want to prove that I'm the best. That's how I go about it. It's been a good ride."