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irish insider

Spruell evolves into renaissance man for ND

| Friday, November 9, 2018

When Devyn Spruell arrived on Notre Dame’s campus in the summer of 2015 to play football for the Irish, he continued a legacy of high standards and excellence that his father Byron started 30 years earlier.

Byron Spruell — current NBA President of League Operations — was a team captain and offensive lineman for the 1987 Notre Dame football team under then-head coach Lou Holtz. The elder Spruell has experienced success both on and off the field, but hasn’t put any pressure on his son to follow in his footsteps and has offered him advice along the way.

Ann Curtis | The Observer

Irish senior linebacker Devyn Spruell gives a fan a high five during Notre Dame’s 38-17 victory over Stanford on Sept. 29.

“My dad was always supportive of whatever I wanted to do. It was my choice to come here and play football versus playing basketball,” Spruell said. “He told me to work hard and stay in the books.”

At 6-foot-2 and 240 pounds, Spruell came to the Notre Dame football program having been all over the field at Watchtung Hills High School, where he recorded 214 career tackles (10 for loss), five sacks, five passes defended, two interceptions, two fumble recoveries and two forced fumbles. He also played on offense, collecting 21 career receptions for 354 yards and two touchdowns.

Spruell, now a four-year member of the Notre Dame scout team, successfully translated his utility-man skills to the Irish practice field as he plays a variety of positions, including linebacker, to prepare the football team for their weekly games.

“I started off just giving some guys a little rest, but now I’m more of a leader,” Spruell said. “Coach Kelly puts me everywhere, mainly whereever he needs the focus of the week to be on. [I help] the O-line a lot. Helping them to be better and perform at the highest level.”

Throughout his four years on the team, Spruell has enjoyed his time with his teammates and learned the value of friendship, he said.

“Always keep your friends close,” Spruell said. “When stuff goes wrong in your life, they’re always there for you to help pick you up. I’ve [become] friends with a lot of people on the team, so I always make sure that if I’m down I can go hang out with them and cheer up.”

Spruell said he now keeps his primary goals down-to-Earth after learning from his time at Notre Dame.

“[I want to] graduate and get a good job,” he said with a laugh. “When I first got here my goal was to find a way on the field, and I’m still working on that, but other than that, I wanted to make sure I graduated with my degree and find my path in life.”

Spruell is on track to graduate this spring with a degree in business analytics, and has only one regret from throughout his time here at Notre Dame.

“I probably should’ve studied more,” he said.

As Spruell’s career with the Irish winds down, he leaves some advice to the underclassmen on the football team.

“Make sure you use your resources, whether academic or football,” he said. “Don’t be afraid to ask any questions, whether it’s to coaches or older players or even players in your own class. Everyone has their own experiences that you can learn from. The more questions you ask, the better off you will be and the more experience you will have.”

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