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2015 NFL DRAFT
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Matt Spaeth

Height: 6-7 | Weight: 270 | College: Minnesota
 
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Overview

Minnesota's all-time career leader in receiving yards (1,291) and receptions (109) by a tight end, Spaeth was a vital part of the team's offensive success during his career. Playing for a team that emphasized the running game, Spaeth's sure hands and imposing size made him an inviting target for Gophers quarterbacks over the middle of the field.

Having seized a starting job as a freshman due to an injury to senior tight end Ben Utecht, Spaeth ended his career on a sad note after undergoing shoulder surgery and missing the 2006 Insight Bowl. Spaeth suffered the injury in the North Dakota State game and the team doctors expected him to miss the rest of the season. After sitting out the Ohio State game, he returned for the final three contests. With the team's postseason hopes seemingly dashed by a 3-6 record, Spaeth helped to rally the team to three consecutive victories, helping the Gophers earn their bowl bid.

The St. Michael-Albertville High School product was a first-team All-Metro selection by the Minnesota High School Coaches Association, the Minneapolis Star Tribune and KARE 11-TV as a senior. He twice earned All-County and All-Conference accolades. Spaeth was named the Defensive MVP of the 1999 3A state championship game and was also the Defensive MVP of his conference.

Spaeth made 22 receptions for 294 yards and three touchdowns his senior year as a tight end. He registered 203 tackles with eight interceptions and forced five fumbles as a rush end that season. He earned three letters as a center on the basketball team, averaging 30 points and 13 rebounds per game. He was named All-Conference three times for his play on the hardwood.

Spaeth enrolled at Minnesota, spending the 2002 season as a defensive end on the scout team. He shifted to tight end in 2003, starting 10 of 13 games for Utecht (now with the Indianapolis Colts). He grabbed 12 passes for 96 yards (8.2 avg) and returned three kickoffs for 49 yards (16.3 avg).

Spaeth participated in 943 plays, earning All-Big Ten Conference honorable mention while starting every game in 2004. He finished third on the team with 24 catches for 298 yards (12.4 avg) and four touchdowns. He also recorded a pair of solo tackles.

Spaeth was a first-team All-Big Ten Conference pick in 2005. He was the team's third-leading receiver with 26 catches for 333 yards (12.8 avg) and four touchdowns while appearing in a career-high 1,025 plays.

In 2006, Spaeth was again chosen to the All-Big Ten Conference first-team and was also honored by the league with its prestigious Sportsmanship Award. The team MVP helped rally the Gophers from a 3-6 record to a bowl berth, when he returned to the field for the final three games with a shoulder injury that doctors said was season-ending. He ranked second on the team with a career-high 47 receptions for 564 yards (12.0 avg) and four touchdowns. He also recorded one solo tackle.

In 48 games at Minnesota, Spaeth started 45 times. He caught 109 passes for 1,291 yards (11.8 avg) and 12 touchdowns. He gained 49 yards on three kickoff returns (16.3 avg) and posted three solo tackles.

Analysis

Positives: Has a tall, long frame with very good arm length, large hands and shows better muscle development since adding 10 pounds to his frame prior to the 2006 season … Shows good chest thickness, functional upper body strength, some thickness in his thighs and calves … Has good ball adjustment skills, using his long arms to catch away from his frame and secure the pass at its high point … With his frame, he is very effective at posting up the middle and uses that frame to shield defenders from the ball … When he lowers his pads, he is good at moving the chains … If used on stop, out, shallow crossers and comeback routes, you can get decent production from him … Shows good urgency working for the ball in a crowd and maintains concentration to look the ball in … Is not going to be intimidated by the more physical defenders and will not hesitate to attack the ball over the middle … Despite adequate change of direction agility, Spaeth is effective going high or low to haul in the pass … Shows good timing in his elevation and has those long arms to reach over and around the defender to make the difficult catch … It is rare to see him body catch or let the ball absorb into his frame … In 2006, he seemed to have developed better strength, as he was able to drive through the second level defenders on contact … His size makes it hard for the smaller defenders to bring him down once he builds to top speed.

Negatives: More of a short-area target due to his imposing size, but also because of his marginal speed that makes him a liability in deep routes … Little too stiff in his hips to generate fluid lateral movement and is best when running straight-line routes than when having to cut and redirect … Would like to see him get more aggressive when having to take on defenders as a blocker and his overall strength needs to be improved … Has to rely more on his hand punch and size to defeat the press … Struggles vs. the larger defenders when he fails to get his hands up quickly to push off his opponent … Lacks suddenness coming off the snap and does not have good moves to get into his routes cleanly … Has some short-area acceleration to settle in the soft areas, but needs to be quicker getting position as a blocker … Lacks precision in and out of his breaks and is best served settling in underneath than trying to take the ball up the seam … Needs to do a better job of selling or conning on his route progression, as he lacks a top burst coming out of his breaks … Does not show the savvy moves needed to set up the defender and must be more physical to escape, as his lack of change of direction agility will not let him surprise a defender … Will lunge and overextend at times and takes only passive swipes when having to block in-line … Too big to be cutting as much as he does when working up field and takes a long loop rather than short angles in attempts to locate the linebackers … Underwent reconstructive right shoulder surgery on Nov. 21, 2006, and further medical evaluation is deemed necessary.

Compares To: COURTNEY ANDERSON-Oakland … Despite his imposing size, Spaeth is limited as a blocker. He is a fine short-area receiver with large, natural hands that he uses to secure the ball before running. He lacks the speed to be a valid deep threat, but by working over the middle and settling underneath, he could be an efficient chain mover, but will never threaten the deep secondary.

Career Notes

Spaeth holds the school career-records for tight ends with 109 receptions for 1,291 yards, topping the previous marks of 83 catches for 1,211 yards by Ben Utecht (2000-03) … His 12 touchdown catches are two shy of Utecht's Gophers tight end career-record of 14 … His 109 receptions rank ninth overall in school history behind Ron Johnson (198, 1998-2001), Tutu Atwell (171, 1994-97), Ryan Thelwell (136, 1994-96), Luke Leverson (132, 1996-99), Chuck Rios (132, 1990-94), Omar Douglas (130, 1990-93), Jared Ellerson (111, 2002-2005) and Aaron Osterman (111, 1990-94) … His 1,291 yards rank 12th overall in school annals … His 47 catches in 2006 rank 14th on the school's season-record list … Caught at least one pass in 40 games.

2006 Season

Named AP All-American first team, and was the John Mackey Award Winner given to the country's top tight end … All-Big Ten Conference first-team selection and honored by the league as the recipient of the Sportsmanship Award … Won the team's Bronko Nagurski Most Valuable Player Award … Started 11 games, missing the Ohio State clash after separating his right shoulder vs. North Dakota State … Finished second on the team with 47 receptions for 564 yards (12.0 avg) and four touchdowns … Also recorded one solo tackle … Of the 60 passes targeted to him, five were deflected by the opposition … Was not called for a penalty in any game … Produced 22 first downs among his 47 grabs, converting 3-of-10 third-down plays and three more on fourth-down action … Eight of his receptions were for 20 yards or longer … Had big plays that set up 11 touchdown drives and one more that resulted in a field goal … Caught 3-of-7 passes thrown to him inside the red zone.

2006 Game Analysis

Kent State … Matt opened the season with 58 yards, as all three of his catches produced first downs … His 35-yarder on a second-&-2 out pass from QB Bryan Cupito set up a 6-yard touchdown run by Alex Daniels that ended a 7-play, 77-yard drive in the third quarter … Head to Head Competition-SS#27-Andre Kirkland-Six tackles (3 solos).

California … Spaeth followed with six receptions for 91 yards, including a 48-yarder that set up a 1-yard scoring plunge by tailback Alex Daniels that ended a 71-yard, 6-play first quarter drive … Head to Head Competition-SS#3-Brandon Hampton-Six tackles (5 solos), one stop for a 4-yard loss.

Temple … Matt was held to one catch for 5 yards and had another pass deflected out of his hands, but he chased down and tackled cornerback Greg Coleman on a 10-yard return of an intercepted Tony Mortensen pass in the third quarter … Head to Head Competition-SS#24-Chris Page-Three solo tackles.

Purdue … Three of Matt's four catches produced first downs, including two on fourth-down ploys, as he gained 48 yards with a touchdown … His score came on a fourth-&-goal 1-yard pass from Bryan Cupito late in the third quarter, after Cupito executed a fake handoff before connecting with Spaeth to cut Purdue's lead to 20-14 … Matt also set up Cupito's 3-yard scoring lob to Logan Payne with a 20-yard grab of a fourth-&-19 crossing pattern with 6:21 left in the game … Head to Head Competition-SS#23-Justin Scott-Ten tackles (6 solos).

Michigan … Matt followed with 47 yards on four grabs, including a long of 26 yards on a late fourth quarter drive … Head to Head Competition-SS#22-Jamar Adams-Two solo tackles.

Penn State … Spaeth hauled in six passes for a season-high 99 yards and a touchdown … The Nittany Lions were forced to punt on the opening drive of the game and Minnesota capitalized, taking a 7-0 lead on a 30-yard pass from QB Bryan Cupito to Matt. The throw capped a 6-play, 52-yard drive and was the sixth time in the last seven games that the Gophers scored on its first possession … On the ensuing Minnesota possession, the Golden Gophers drove 75 yards in 10 plays to tie the game at 14-14 early in the fourth quarter. Amir Pinnix capped the drive with a 4-yard touchdown run. The Maroon and Gold's first three plays netted only seven yards before Cupito found Logan Payne on fourth down for a 43-yard reception to get Minnesota to the PSU 36-yard line. After a 5-yard catch by Ernie Wheelwright, Spaeth moved the Golden Gophers to the 1-yard line with a 30-yard reception down the middle of the field. Pinnix punched it in from there for his second touchdown of the game, knotting the game at 21-21. Minnesota's drive of seven plays went 86 yards in 1:31 … Record Watch-With six catches on the day, Matt Spaeth moved past Ben Utecht for the all-time lead for career receptions by a tight end … Spaeth became the 19th member of the Gophers' 1,000-yard receiving club with his 30-yard touchdown catch on Minnesota's first possession. He is only the second tight end in Minnesota history, joining Utecht, to surpass the 1,000-yard mark. Spaeth now has 1,077 yards receiving for his career, needing just 135 yards to move past Utecht for first place all-time for receiving yards by a tight end … Spaeth's touchdown catch gave him ten for his career, moving him into a tie for eleventh-place all-time in career touchdown receptions …

Head to Head Competition-SS#7-Anthony Scirrotto-Seven tackles (5 solos).

Wisconsin … Matt grabbed four passes for 42 yards, including a 16-yarder on the team's first play from scrimmage … His 10-yarder later in the first quarter set up Jason Giannini's 37-yard field goal that ended a 60-yard, 8-play drive … Head to Head Competition-SS#16-Joe Stellmacher-Three tackles (2 solos).

North Dakota State … Matt matched his season-high with six receptions, good for 49 yards … He had a long of 19 yards on the team's second play of the game … On a 1-yard catch in the second quarter, Matt suffered a grade two right shoulder separation and was helped off the field … He returned in the fourth quarter to snare passes of 9, 6 & 6 yards to set up a 5-yard touchdown run by Amir Pinnix to finish a 10-play, 65-yard drive with 10:36 left on the clock … Head to Head Competition-SS#20-Craig Dahl-Three tackles (2 solos), one pass deflection.

Ohio State … Did not play (shoulder).

Indiana … Spaeth shocked his teammates, coaching staff and doctors when he insisted he was healthy enough to return to the field with what the medical staff said was a season-ending shoulder injury two weeks prior. He not only started, but also caught three passes for 30 yards, including a 23-yard touchdown on a sideline toss from Bryan Cupito late in the first quarter … Head to Head Competition-SS#5-Troy Grosfield-Eight tackles (7 solos), one forced fumble.

Michigan State … Matt continued to come up with clutch catches, gaining 51 yards on four grabs … His 38-yard gain on a third-&-4 toss from Bryan Cupito set up a 3-yard scoring run by Jay Thomas that concluded an 80-yard, 10-play drive early in the second quarter … Head to Head Competition-SS#27-SirDarean Adams-Five tackles (4 solos), one pass deflection, one stop for a 5-yard loss.

Iowa … Stating that he would undergo shoulder surgery after the game, Spaeth's five catches for 44 yards and a touchdown helped the team win its final three games to receive a bid to the Insight Bowl … He converted a third-&-1 throw from Bryan Cupito into a 9-yard gain that set up a 10-yard touchdown run by Amir Pinnix early in the first quarter … The Golden Gophers capitalized on a third quarter drive, going 35 yards in seven plays before Cupito fired a fourth-&-5 pass to Matt for a 3-yard touchdown … Head to Head Competition-SS#15-Miguel Merrick-Five tackles (3 solos), 2-yard interception return.

2005 Season

All-Big Ten Conference first-team and Academic All-Big Ten choice … Winner of the school's Scholar-Athlete Award … Started every game, finishing third on the team with 26 receptions for 333 yards (12.8 avg) and four touchdowns while participating in a career-high 1,025 plays … His clutch receiving helped the team rank seventh in the nation with an average of 494.8 yards per game in total offense … Of the 33 passes targeted to him, two were deflected by the opposition … Was penalized five times (four false starts, one holding) … Eighteen of his 26 catches resulted in first downs, as he converted 10-of-14 third-down plays … Four of his receptions came inside the red zone and two of his grabs were for longer than 20 yards … He made big plays that set up six touchdown drives and one more that ended with a field goal.

2005 Game Analysis

Tulsa and Colorado State … Did not catch any passes in either of the team's first two games.

Florida Atlantic … Caught the only pass thrown to him for a 9-yard gain … Head to Head Competition-SS#27-Kris Bartels-Eight tackles (4 solos), one fumble recovery.

Purdue … Matt broke out for 68 yards and a touchdown, as three of his four catches produced first downs, including two on third-down plays … Spaeth was penalized twice for false starts on one drive midway through the first quarter, but he converted third-down plays for receptions of 15 & 36 yards to set up Bryan Cupito's 5-yard scoring lob to Gary Russell that ended a 9-play, 82-yard drive at the start of the second half … With 1:34 left on the clock, he ended a 65-yard, 12-play drive with an 8-yard touchdown catch … Head to Head Competition-SS#31-Bernard Pollard-Twelve tackles (7 solos).

Michigan … Spaeth's only reception was good for an 8-yard gain on a third-&-goal toss from Bryan Cupito in the second quarter … Head to Head Competition-SS#31-Brandent Englemon-One solo tackle, one pass deflection.

Wisconsin … Matt only caught one pass for the second-straight week, but he turned that third-&-goal toss into a 5-yard touchdown … Head to Head Competition-SS#16-Joe Stellmacher-Fourteen tackles (9 solos).

Ohio State … The Gopher tight end had two first downs on his three catches, good for 58 yards, but was also penalized for a false start on a third-&-10 play in the third quarter … His 14-yarder in the first quarter set up a Minnesota 30-yard field goal and his long catch was good for a 30-yard gain in the third … Head to Head Competition-SS#9-Donte Whitner-Ten tackles (8 solos).

Indiana … Gained 66 yards with three first downs among his four receptions, including a 30-yarder on the team's first play from scrimmage … He added a 17-yard touchdown catch in the third quarter and caught a two-point conversion in the fourth … Head to Head Competition-SS#39-Will Meyers-Twelve tackles (10 solos).

Michigan State … Matt was credited with 24 yards on three catches, capping a 67-yard, 8-play drive in the second quarter with a 7-yard touchdown grab on a third-&-4 throw from Bryan Cupito … Head to Head Competition-SS#36-Eric Smith-Twelve tackles (9 solos), one pass deflection.

Iowa … Spaeth caught four passes for 49 yards in the regular season finale, as three of those grabs produced first downs … Head to Head Competition-SS#15-Miguel Merrick-Three tackles (2 solos), two pass deflections (also stopped Matt from catching two other throws).

Virginia (Music City Bowl) … Spaeth had only two receptions for 25 yards … Head to Head Competition-SS#21-Byron Glasby-Five tackles (2 solos), 0.5 stops for a 1-yard loss.

2004 Season

Academic All-Big Ten Conference, adding honorable mention All-Big Ten accolades … Named Minnesota's Scholar-Athlete … Started every game, finishing third on the team with 24 receptions for 298 yards (12.4 avg) and four touchdowns … Saw action in 943 plays.

2004 Game Analysis

Did not catch any passes in each of the Toledo, Illinois State, Penn State, Michigan and Alabama (Music City Bowl) … Hauled in six passes for 71 yards and touchdowns of 10 & 19 yards from QB Bryan Cupito in the Colorado State clash … Added 72 yards on five grabs vs. Northwestern … Made six catches for 95 yards, including 1 & 2-yard touchdowns in the Indiana game … Followed with 28 yards on two catches vs. Wisconsin … Added 18 yards on three receptions vs. Iowa.

2003 Season

Academic All-Big Ten Conference selection and Minnesota Scholar-Athlete … Earned All-Big Ten Conference Freshman Team honors from The Sporting News … Saw action in all thirteen games, starting ten contests … Ranked sixth on the squad with twelve catches for 96 yards (8.2 avg) … Gained 49 yards on three kickoff returns (16.3 avg) and participated in 908 plays.

2003 Game Analysis

Made three catches for 31 yards vs. Troy State … Had a 4-yard catch vs. Louisiana-Lafayette and a 7-yard grab vs. Michigan … Returned two kickoffs for 31 yards and gained 19 yards on two receptions vs. Michigan State … Followed with a 6-yard grab vs. Illinois, followed by a 120-yarder in the Wisconsin clash … Totaled 21 yards on three catches vs. Iowa.

2002 Season

Redshirted as a freshman, spending the season performing on the scout team as a defensive end.

Injury Report

2006: Suffered a Grade-2 right shoulder separation in fall camp, but played most of the season with the injury … Re-injured the shoulder in the second quarter on a 1-yard catch vs. North Dakota State and had to be helped off the field. Was expected to miss the rest of the season, but only sat out the Ohio State game before returning for the final three regular-season games … Missed the Insight Bowl to undergo surgery on the shoulder (Grade-5) on Nov. 21.

2007: Did not participate in the workouts at the Scouting Combine due to recovery from his shoulder surgery.

Agility Tests

Campus: 4.86 in the 40-yard dash … 335-pound bench press … 415-pound squat … 32-inch vertical jump … 4.65 20-yard shuttle … 33 7/8-inch arm length … 10 3/8-inch hands … Right-handed … Wears contacts … 29/46 Wonderlic score.

Combine: Attended, but did not work out while recovering from shoulder surgery.

High School

Attended St. Michael-Albertville (Minn.) High School, playing football for head coach Earl Bauman … First-team All-Metro pick by the Minnesota High School Coaches Association, the Minneapolis Star Tribune and KARE 11-TV as a senior … Twice earned All-County and All-Conference accolades … Named the Defensive MVP of the 1999 3A state championship game and was also the Defensive MVP of his conference … Made 22 receptions for 294 yards and three touchdowns his senior year as a tight end … Registered 203 tackles with eight interceptions and forced five fumbles as a rush end that season … Earned three letters as a center on the basketball team, averaging 30 points and 13 rebounds per game … Named All-Conference three times for his play on the hardwood.

Personal

Marketing major, earning Academic All-Big Ten Conference and school Scholar-Athlete Award honors ever since his freshman year … Son of Terri and Ken Spaeth … Father was a tight end at Nebraska (1975-77) and chosen in the fifth round of the 1978 NFL Draft by the Buffalo Bills … Born 11/24/83 … Resides in St. Michael, Minnesota.

 
 

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