A quick glance at Nelson Spruce’s twitter profile reveals the beginning of a famous Theodore Roosevelt quote, “It is not the critic who counts...”
Critics beware. NFL teams take notice. Nelson Spruce is back on the gridiron.
A year after starring for the San Diego Fleet in the now defunct Alliance of American Football (AAF), the former Colorado Buffaloes wide receiver made the most of his XFL debut Saturday with Los Angeles Wildcats. The 27-year old led all players with 15 targets, 11 receptions and 103 receiving yards in a 37-17 loss to the Houston Roughnecks.
During his four years at Colorado, Spruce (2012-’15) shattered a number of school records including career receptions (294), receiving yards (3,347) and receiving touchdowns (23). Despite his success in Boulder, Colo., he went undrafted in the 2016 NFL Draft but did sign as an undrafted free agent with the Los Angeles Rams.
After being released by the Rams in 2017, Spruce bounced around NFL practice squads the next two years before he found a home last season with the AAF’s Fleet. In eight games, the former Westlake H.S. (Thousand Oaks, Calif.) product finished with a team-high 38 receptions for 426 yards and two touchdowns. His 38 catches ranked second in the league behind only Charles Johnson’s (Orlando Apollos) 45.
Nearly six months after the AAF suspended operations, Spruce was drafted by the Wildcats, one of eight teams in the new XFL. He was the last pick in the 3rd round (24th overall) of the Phase 1: Skill Players draft. After Saturday’s performance, it makes this scribe wonder how 11 wide receivers were selected before him.
Spruce and the Wildcats will look to get in the win column when they host the Dallas Renegades on Sunday, February 16. Game time is scheduled for 1 p.m. MT and can be seen on ABC.