By Scott Brown
Sunday, October 21, 2007
The Steelers surprised a lot of people when they used their third-round pick in April's draft on a tight end because they already had Heath Miller and Jerame Tuman.
Matt Spaeth has validated his selection by assuming a significant role in the Steelers' offense.
Spaeth (6-foot-7, 270 pounds) caught a touchdown pass in each of his first two NFL games and has played a lot in an offense that frequently uses multiple tight ends. He missed two games because of a deep thigh bruise.
Spaeth's father played tight end at Nebraska, but it wasn't until his junior year of high school that Spaeth decided he had more of a future in football than basketball.
He picked the Minnesota over Nebraska and Wisconsin and left as the school's all-time leader in catches and receiving yards by a tight end, as well as a Mackey Award winner.
Spaeth recently purchased a townhouse in Ross Park and will move into his new place soon. He talked to the Tribune-Review about also settling into the NFL, as well as why his brother has extra incentive to root for him every game.
What's been the biggest adjustment from college to the NFL?
"It's probably just the time you put in here. It seems like we're here all day, and when it comes to film and game plan stuff we could be here probably even more. You've still got to do some studying on your own; at least I do. That's probably been the biggest adjustment. I'm usually here around 7 (a.m.) and I'm usually out of here by 4."
Has fatigue set in since you've played what is almost a full college season, if you count preseason?
"Honestly, I'm trying not to think about it. I'm trying not to think in a few weeks that my normal season would be over. I'm just trying to think about the long haul, that way when it gets to December it's not in your head that 'Oh, I should be done by now.' "
Some people probably wondered how a deep thigh bruise caused you to miss two games. How bad was it?
"I got it the first week and it hurt, but I played through it. Then I took numerous hits to it the next game and my leg completely swelled up. It was just full of blood and different things like that, so it was more the swelling the kept me out because once your leg gets swollen you have to protect it or it will get worse."
Where you surprised when the Steelers drafted you?
"I didn't really know what to expect on draft day. When I got the call from them I was pretty surprised."
Who is the biggest character in your draft class?
"I don't think we've got a real character out of the group. I'd say Timmons is the biggest (one). He's real quiet, but he's goofy. "
So how much are you helping your brother's fantasy football team?
"He didn't start me at first, and then I scored. I think (Kansas City's Tony) Gonzalez was his other tight end and he said 'I think you got more points than Gonzalez, so I'm starting you the rest of the year, no matter what.' As a brother, he's almost obligated to."