Spence To Enter 2013 NFL Draft
Dec. 21, 2012
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - University of Illinois redshirt-junior defensive tackle Akeem Spence announced Friday that he will forgo his senior season at Illinois to enter the 2013 NFL Draft, which will take place April 25-27 at Radio City Music Hall in New York. Spence finished his classwork earlier this week and will graduate on Saturday with a degree in communications.
After redshirting in 2009, Spence started every game of his Illinois career, making 38 consecutive starts over the last three seasons. The Fort Walton Beach, Fla., native was third on the team with 72 tackles and tied for second with 7.0 TFLs in 2012, earning honorable mention All-Big Ten honors for his effort. He ended his UI career with a bang, posting career highs of 11 tackles, seven solos and two TFLs in the 2012 finale at Northwestern.
During his career, Spence helped lead the Fighting Illini to back-to-back bowl wins in 2010 (Texas Bowl) and 2011 (Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl), a feat that had never been accomplished at Illinois before. He was an anchor on the 2011 Illini defensive unit that finished the season ranked seventh nationally in total defense. For his career, Spence totaled 186 tackles, 16.5 TFLs and 3.5 sacks.
Akeem Spence statement:
Illinois head coach Tim Beckman on Spence:
Spence is the eighth Illini in the last six years to enter the draft with eligibility remaining. The previous seven all were taken in the first three rounds, including four first-rounders, which is tied for the second-most among all schools with Florida and USC, behind only Alabama's nine. It also marks the third-straight year that an Illini defensive lineman has entered the draft with eligibility remaining. The previous two, DT Corey Liuget in 2010 and DE Whitney Mercilus in 2011, both were drafted in the first round.