02/20/2013 - 2013 NFL Combine, Tale of the tape: With scouts having seen most of the top prospects "on the hoof" over the fall and getting a second look at them on the "catwalk" before senior all-star games, the official measuring of heights, weight, hand and arms conducted during the Combine is only occasionally newsworthy ... except when it comes to underclassmen, who scouts often haven't seen up close yet. For the exact opposite reasons scouts are anxious to see the actual measurements for Illinois' Akeem Spence and Georgia's Kwame Geathers.
Spence was officially listed by the Fighting Illini at 6-1, 305 pounds. Although stout as a run-stuffer, he does not have the elite quickness normally associated with undersized defensive tackles and is a limited pass-rusher (3.5 sacks in 38 career starts). If he measures in shorter than 6-1, teams will question where he fits, potentially pushing him into the third day of the draft. - Rob Rang, NFLDraftScout.com
12/24/2012 - The 2012 season was one that Illinois fans would like to put in a box and then set that box on fire. Maybe even throw a grenade in that box, too. Just to be safe and make sure it doesn't get out. Still, even if there weren't many bright spots for the Illini during their 2-10 campaign, defensive tackle Akeem Spence surely wasn't the problem. And, unfortunately for Illinois, Spence won't be back in Champaign in 2013. He announced Friday that he was leaving school to enter the NFL Draft.
"I would like to thank the University of Illinois for giving me an opportunity to become a great student-athlete," said Spence. "The current and past coaching staffs have been very supportive throughout my collegiate career. I can't say enough about the extremely loyal fans and the entire athletic department, who have all made my collegiate experience an unforgettable one. This has been a very important time in my life. My family and I look forward to the journey ahead, and we expect nothing less than greatness on and off the field." - Tom Fornelli, CBSSports.com
12/19/2012 - According to a league source, Illinois redshirt junior defensive tackle Akeem Spence will declare for the 2013 NFL Draft on Friday. He was one of the few bright spots for the Illini in 2012, despite a 2-10 season. Spence currently ranks as NFLDraftScout.com's No. 9 DT for the 2013 NFL Draft and the No. 90 prospect overall.
A stout run defender, Spence finished third on the team in tackles (72) this past season, earning All-Big Ten Honorable Mention honors. He also finished with 7.0 tackles for loss, 1.0 sack and a forced fumble. Spence is a physical tackler and powerful hitter, showing good range and mobility for an interior lineman. He has good awareness to find the run lane and halt ballcarriers, but needs to improve his leverage and timing. Spence isn't much of a pass rusher at this point (3.5 career sacks), but has good experience, starting every game for Illinois the past three seasons (38 starts).
Spence will join Ohio State's Johnathan Hankins and Missouri's Sheldon Richardson as underclassmen defensive tackles who have declared early for next April's NFL Draft. - Dane Brugler, NFLDraftScout.com
12/03/2012 - 2012 ALL-BIG TEN HONORABLE MENTION (COACHES): Akeem Spence, Illinois, has been selected Honorable Mention All-Big Ten (Coaches selection) for the 2012 college football season. Spence has been a constant force on the defensive line throughout his UI career, starting all 38 games over the last three seasons. He had a big junior season, posting 62 tackles, 7.0 TFLs and one sack. - Illinois football
12/03/2012 - 2012 ALL-BIG TEN HONORABLE MENTION (MEDIA): Akeem Spence, Illinois, has been selected Honorable Mention All-Big Ten (Media selection) for the 2012 college football season. Spence has been a constant force on the defensive line throughout his UI career, starting all 38 games over the last three seasons. He had a big junior season, posting 62 tackles, 7.0 TFLs and one sack. - Illinois football
09/11/2012 - STILL NEEDS WORK: Everything else after this one. The defense let the team down on a night it needed to be in beast mode without QB Nathan Scheelhaase. It looked unprepared for Arizona State's NASCAR tempo and was constantly befuddled by presnap motion, as well as misdirection. O'Toole and Miles Osei not only contributed modest stats, which couldn't have been unexpected, but made several critical mistakes which made a bad situation worse. DT Akeem Spence didn't do much statistically with just two tackles and a forced fumble. He and his mates on the front four -- Michael Buchanan, Tim Kynard and Glenn Foster -- combined for just six stops all night and were routinely whipped up front. - The Sports Xchange
07/31/2012 - Top-five Illinois prospects for the 2013 NFL Draft: 3. DT Akeem Spence...A player who could easily be No. 1 on this list, Spence is a disruptive player who will move up this list quick if he continues to develop as a junior in 2012. A prototypical three-technique tackle, he has started every game since his redshirt freshman season and is the leader of the defensive line, showing the versatility to do whatever the new coaching staff asks in the trenches. Although he was overlooked as a high school recruit out of Florida, he showed up in Champaign with the motivation to not only find the field, but dominate between the white lines. After redshirting in 2009, he earned a starting job next to All-American and future first rounder Corey Liuget, finishing with 45 tackles, 4.0 tackles for loss and 1.0 sack as a freshman. Spence boosted his production as a starter and finished fourth on the team in tackles (69), adding 5.5 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks and a forced fumble. He is naturally strong with the raw power to move blockers where he wants, gaining leverage and fighting through the whistle. Spence uses his quickness off the snap to attack and use his physical nature to aggressively battle his way into the backfield, although he needs to keep his eyes level to follow the ball and not take himself out of the play. Like Liuget two years ago, Spence could warrant first round consideration if he decides to declare early for the draft. - Dane Brugler, NFLDraftScout.com
07/20/2012 - 2012 ROTARY LOMBARDI AWARD PRESEASON WATCH LIST: Akeem Spence, DT, Illinois, has been selected to the Preseason Rotary Lombardi Award Watch List for the 2012 college football season, presented the nation's top college lineman or linebacker each year by The Rotary Club of Houston. Spence posted 69 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks from his defensive tackle spot as a sophomore in 2011, while helping anchor the seventh-ranked defense in the country. - Illinois football
07/18/2012 - 2012 OUTLAND TROPHY PRESEASON WATCH LIST: Akeem Spence, Illinois, DT, has been selected to the Preseason Outland Trophy Watch List for the 2012 college football season, which goes to the best interior lineman in college football, as selected by the Football Writers Association of America. After being named a freshman All-American in 2010, Spence followed up with an even better year in 2011. He posted 69 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks during his sophomore campaign, while helping anchor the seventh-ranked defense in the country. - Illinois football