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“He’s just been a pleasure.” JD Spielman’s impact goes beyond the field

The former Nebraska star is playing a different role for the Frogs, but his impact remains enormous.

NCAA Football: Texas Christian at Texas Ricardo B. Brazziell-USA TODAY Sports

JD Spielman was set to become Nebraska’s all-time leading receiver. In the top ten of every major statistical category through three seasons, Spielman was one of the best returning receivers in the Big Ten when he surprisingly decided to leave Lincoln before the 2020 season. Citing a need for a change of scenery, Spielman issued a statement at the time that said:

“Good mental health is also a key component to my success not only on the football field, but also in life, school and relationships. Focusing on my mental health allows me to understand who I am, what my passions are, and what my purpose is.

“Football has taught me how to overcome obstacles and face adversity. It has helped me become disciplined, determined, and resilient. At the end of the day, please remember life is so much more than football. I am and will always be much more than just an athlete. Every day is a new opportunity. Thank you again to those who have supported me on my journey. I’m forever grateful. Lots of Luv and Go B1G Red.”

When he resurfaced at TCU several weeks later, it was surprising to many — the Horned Frogs hadn’t exactly been lighting the world on fire on offense, but were certainly in need of an experienced player at the position. Spielman, the son of Vikings GM Rick, knew Jerry Kill a little, but had other reasons for choosing TCU. “I really believed what the coaches were telling me, the plan they had for me. On top of that, I used to be a TCU fan in 2014 when they were top-5 in the nation every year. That’s one of the things that really persuaded my decision, I always had some love for the Horned Frogs.” Once the offer came in, it was an easy choice to sign. “When I finally got an offer and a chance to come play I decided to take it.”

While he hasn’t blown people away on the stat sheet, with three receptions for 36 yards through two games. But his impact in the return game has been palpable (averaging over 11 yards per), as has his impact in the locker room. “We’ve known him for years so he’s known a lot about our program and how we operate and do things. JD has been a pleasure,” Patterson said. He mentioned another skill, as well. “I don’t know how much y’all know about his music skills, but we play a couple of his songs on our playlist during practice. He’s multi-talented.” He’s been a veteran presence for a young group of receivers, too, something that Taye Barber noted a few weeks back. “He ups everybody’s game with what he does at practice. He’s a great football player. I’m just so glad he’s at TCU. We can do so many things on the offensive side with him on our team.”

Though Spielman went from a #1 wide receiver to one of a talented group, he has adjusted well to his new role, in his opinion. “The normal thing on my mind isn’t how many catches I’m going to get in this game or how many big plays I’m going to make — it’s about what I can do to help the team win.” He has the unselfish mindset of a true team player. “At this point, whatever role they set for me I’m fine with it. At the end of the day it’s a team sport and all 11 pieces have to come together for a play to work in the first place. I’m fine with whatever the coaches want me to do as long as I get to go out and help the team win.”

It certainly wasn’t easy leaving the Big Red, but Spielman isn’t one to look back. “When you’re in a world like this you have to take chances and jump for new things without any regrets. That’s what I did, left with no regrets and just looking to the future. Now that I’m here I’m trying to make the most out of it.”

Making the most of it is what he has done, and the best is yet to come for the senior. And he fully expects for the hard work he and his teammates have put in to pay off with a game-changing play — soon. “There have been some times walking off the field after a game and I think ‘man, make one or two more people miss or break one more tackle and that could have been a touchdown that decides the game.’ I’m not letting the fact that we’ve been close so many times discourage me, I’m using that as a way to show everybody how close we are.”

Maybe this will be the week where he finally breaks one, and gives the Frogs a little extra momentum to beat the Wildcats Saturday.