Although Team East was on the losing side in the Gridiron Football All-American Bowl Game, there were some standout performers from the game, especially on the defensive side of the football and why not start with the Team East Defensive MVP: Dutchtown High School (Geismar, LA) DT Diego Spears.
“Winning MVP was a little bit of a surprise. I thought it was going to me or the guy from Slidell (Jalen Anderson). I was definitely excited when I heard my name.”Dutchtown High School (Geismar, LA) DT Diego Spears
The 6’1, 260 pound defensive tackle was all over the place as his name was called out frequently throughout the night as he finished with 4.5 tackles, 1.5 sacks, and 2 TFLs. The Gridiron Football All-American Bowl Game would be the last game of Spears’ high school career, but he played in the game like he did any other Friday night during the season and that was with relentless tenacity and effort.
“Going in, I told myself that I was going to do the best that I can since it was my last game as well. I tried to stay focus on practice and all that. I was just trying to make sure that my last game was a good one and it turned out to be the best that it could.”Dutchtown High School (Geismar, LA) DT Diego Spears
Winning Defensive MVP was just the icing on the cake for Spears as it was a perfect end to a fantastic bowl game week.
“I thought it was pretty fun to meet everybody. I made some new friends that I still talk to today, and I got to meet some of my old friends that I went to daycare with. Practices were fun, especially the Big Cat in the morning starting the practice off and getting to line up against people. I had a lot of fun playing in the actual game and winning defensive MVP. It was a fun experience to have and just to be able to play one more football game.”Dutchtown High School (Geismar, LA) DT Diego Spears
Making splash plays from the defensive line position and being all over the field may be news to some, but not to the Dutchtown faithful, who routinely saw the 1st Team All-Parish and 2nd Team All-State selection make big plays ever Friday night. Over his prep career, the Gridiron Football All-American Bowl Game standout stuffed the stat sheet with 120 tackles, 24 sacks, 41 TFLs, and two pass breakups. Despite all the gaudy numbers, what Spears is most proud of was that he helped lead the Griffins to their best postseason finish ever with the team being one game short of making the Division I (Non-Select) State Championship Game. Considering that former college and NFL superstars like Eddie Lacy, Landon Collins, Eric Reid, and Justin Reid never made it that far in the playoffs for Dutchtown, that shows what kind of season it was.
“It was definitely a great experience. It was my last season at Dutchtown, especially growing up with the guys over the last four years that became my brothers. The goal for me was definitely to make the Superdome, but also to play as much football as possible with the brothers I bonded with the last four years. I wanted it to last as long as it could. It was a great feeling to lead the team that far considering all the great talented players that have gone through there. Obviously, we wanted to go to the Superdome, but being able to accomplish that many things and being the team that has ever went the farthest in Ascension Parish really meant a lot to me.”Dutchtown High School (Geismar, LA) DT Diego Spears
Winning defensive MVP of the bowl game was not the only time he has been recognized by Gridiron Football as he was our first ever defensive player to ever win our player of the week award back when he was a junior at Dutchtown. In that particular game, he helped lead the team to a 28-0 shutout win over Live Oak with a 12 tackle, 4 TFL, two sack, 1 PBU, and a force fumble performance against the Eagles. Spears and the Griffins defense were not only satisfied with winning, but they took even more satisfaction when their suffocating defense took an opposing offense out of the end zone.
“Something that made this team really special was that we were always pushing each other to get better during the season and when it was gameday, we were all locked in that no matter what happens, we are going to be alright. Our defense was really special. We had the most dominant defensive line in Louisiana. Us three up front and all of the guys we had behind us were dominant. It helped us through a lot of games and it helped our offense stay calm, which allowed them to play the game at their pace. That is a big part because defense is a big staple at Dutchtown. That is what led us very far and our offense played with the physicality that we had.”Dutchtown High School (Geismar, LA) DT Diego Spears
Spears has been playing football since he was five years old and at one point, even played some running back, but he took that quickness, nimble feet, vision, and awareness to the defensive side of the football as a defensive lineman.
“My strength and technique helps me a lot. I get off the ball very explosive so it’s hard for slower linemen to get a good grip and adjust because by the time they are getting out of their stance, I am already up in their face. I just feel my quickness and explosiveness make me hard to block plus my strength that I have been working on a lot. It is just harder for them to get really settled in. Like when I made the back to back tackles in the bowl game, I would like to think that I am a little faster than your normal big guy.”Dutchtown High School (Geismar, LA) DT Diego Spears
Not only is he quick for his size, but he is incredibly strong as he can bench press 365, squat 545, and can power clean 325. With also close to a 3.0 GPA, there is a lot to like about the Dutchtown defensive tackle. Right now, he has only received offers from Louisiana Christian and Culver Stockton as well as some preferred walk-ons from Grambling, McNeese State and ULL, but he is still taking in the whole recruiting process.
“I am waiting as long as I can to see what offers come in, but at the end of the day, I am just looking at all the options that I have right now and where I will get the most playing time and fit in the best at.”Dutchtown High School (Geismar, LA) DT Diego Spears
The one thing that may be hurting him is that he is not the stereotypical size for a DI defensive tackle that a lot of people look for, but players like Spears have shown that they can more than hold their own against the best of the best.
“I just want to prove that size is not the only measurable to look in a player. Some of the hardest guys that I have ever gone up against were smaller players. I just want to prove to people just because of my size, that shouldn’t make you think less of me. I want to prove that I am still one of the best players on the field no matter who I am going up against. I want to prove to coaches that they should have offered me when they got the chance.”Dutchtown High School (Geismar, LA) DT Diego Spears
Diego Spears models his game after another player who is a beast on the football field and is not the biggest guy in the world. That player is Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald.
“Aaron Donald has been my favorite player for a while. I have watched him while he was at Pitt. He reminds me of myself a lot because he is on the smaller end, but he is just really strong and technically sound. I watch videos of him all the time when it comes to pass rushing and all that, but he is definitely somebody that I model myself after and look up to a lot because he is going up against some of the best of the best. He may be one of the smallest linemen, but he is still able to go back there and cause a lot of havoc.”Dutchtown High School (Geismar, LA) DT Diego Spears
Diego Spears has consistently shown whatever it is against some of the best talent in a talent rich state like Louisiana or against some of the best across in the country that he can take over games just like his football role model. All he needs is a chance and he will show why he can be such an impactful player.
“If you want somebody that is going to help your program and lead you somewhere, I am your guy. I am a player that no matter where I go, I am going to be a player for them.”Dutchtown High School (Geismar, LA) DT Diego Spears
Read more about the 2023 Gridiron Football All-American Bowl Game and watch the full game below!