The Evolution Of ‘Murderleg’

NCAA Football: Vanderbilt at Florida

Carey Spear hadn’t heard the nickname until last week.

“From what I was told, it was written in a blog somewhere,” old Murderleg told Birds 24/7 Wednesday. “And it was pretty humorous hearing that and seeing how the city just kind of rallied around that nickname a little bit. So I never heard it at Vanderbilt.”

The Vanderbilt blog Anchor Of Gold came up with the nickname. We linked to it here, and so did some other sites. Now it sounds like Murderleg could end up sticking.

“Some guys [teammates] chirp about it, and I tell them, ‘Hey I never heard that in college, but whatever.’” Spear said. “Nicknames are nicknames, but I’m not focused on that. I’m focused on being the best player I can be, the best teammate I can be.”

Spear first surfaced on the Eagles’ radar in late February. Special teams coach Dave Fipp traveled to Vanderbilt to work him out and interview him. On the Saturday of draft weekend, Fipp was the one who made the call to let Spear know the Eagles wanted to add him as a priority free agent. He’s now spending his days at the NovaCare Complex with a chance at beating out Alex Henery.

That competition will be based on how each guy performs on field goals and kickoffs this summer. But there’s no ignoring the other aspect of Spear’s game: flying down the field on coverage and leveling unsuspecting return men.

Take this example against Missouri:

Per Anchor of Gold, Spear got clipped on an extra point. He then stared down return man T.J. Moe, pointed at him and took him out.

Spear, however, said that version of the story is a bit fabricated.

“That’s noise,” he said. “Just trying to buy in, do my job as a football player, not a kicker. Filling that hole when it needs to be filled. It might be nine times out of 10 I don’t make that tackle, but you go all in for one play. You try and do your best. You might get a guy with a solid hit the next play. So maybe got lucky there.”

What about the pointing?

“That’s part of my pre-kick routine for kickoffs,” he added. “So whether that gets the guy going or not, that’s up to him. But just trying to stay consistent with everything.”

Spear is clearly a bit uncomfortable with the amount of attention he’s received since the Eagles signed him, but he takes pride in making those tackles as a part of the return team.

“It just comes from buying into the process, understanding that if you want to be on the team, you’ve gotta be willing to sacrifice,” he said. “Whether that’s time being social or whether that’s your body on the field, that’s something that I’ve really tried to buy into. It’s not trying to stand out necessarily, moreso just trying to buy in, being all in with the team, being the best Eagle I can be. Knowing that you kick the ball off, inevitably, someone’s gonna return it at some point. You’ve gotta be a football player.”

As for his work as a kicker, Spear knows he has work to do – both in terms of strength and accuracy. The blog Bird Breakdown did an in-depth breakdown, showing Henery was clearly the superior prospect.

But the Eagles have said all offseason that they wanted competition at the kicker spot.

So for now, Murderleg will look to seize the opportunity.

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