Published Thursday, February 07, 2013

NSD: Northgate's Spencer continues service academy tradition

By DOUG GORMAN

dgorman@newnan.com

Northgate defensive end Sean Spencer now knows the two most important words in his vocabulary are "Beat Army."

It's a requirement for every freshman entering the Naval Academy, especially if they plan on playing football for the Midshipman.

There's no doubt that's a phrase he won't mind throwing towards his brother someday as they sit around the dinner table.

Older brother Greg also played defensive line – but at rival Army — while sister Kelly played volleyball at the Air Force Academy after having her Northgate High jersey retired.

Spencer signed his letter of intent to the Naval Academy on Wednesday morning concluding the "Service Academy" triple crown for his family.

Both older siblings are now deployed on military assignments, but still have taken time to give their younger brother some good natured ribbing.

Spencer knows he will have a chance to poke the fun back at his brother and sister.

"It's going to get heated when we play Army and Air Force," Smith said.

Father Mark Spencer couldn't be happier his son elected to keep the service academy tradition going.

"We just feel very blessed," he said.

For Spencer, signing the Division I letter of intent might have seemed impossible just two years ago after missing the bulk of his sophomore and all of his junior year with injuries suffered both times against Fayette County.

Sean's parents and older siblings never let him give up.

"I had a great driving force with my parents and brother and sister," Sean said. "I hit rock bottom, so it was tough at times, but every I time had the support to bounce back."

His decision to sign with Navy came after first offering a non-biding verbal commitment to Vanderbilt earlier in the recruiting process.

"The recruiting process is very stressful," he said. "It might not be the best process in the world. You have to pick and choose every where to go. When I was committed to Vanderbilt it felt good there, but it didn't feel perfect. When I took an official visit to Navy it just felt right."

Along the way, Sean equally learned one of the most important lessons of high school recruiting.

"One of things I learned during the process was you have to go where you are wanted, not where you are needed," he said.

Spencer's dad equally taught his son about the responsibilities that go along with being a high-profile athlete.

"The toughest, but maybe the greatest thing about the recruiting process is when you have to tell another adult 'No,'" Mark Spencer said. "We asked Sean to call all of the coaches that offered him a scholarship to tell them and explain his decision. The toughest was calling Vanderbilt because they are very passionate. The coaches at the other schools were very professional. It was a learning experience for an 18-year-old. In the grand scheme of things, the academies give you so much more."

Spencer is one of three players from the Northgate squad to sign a Division I scholarship this year.

Cornerback/wide receiver Brandon Facyson enrolled at Virginia Tech last month after graduating early and will be able to go through spring practice with the Hokies.

Facyson played on both sides of the ball for the Vikings, but could contend for an opening at defensive back this season at Virginia Tech.

Offensive lineman DeAndre "Moose" Johnson signed a letter of intent to play at the University of Georgia and will reunite with Madras Middle School teammate Tray Matthews of Newnan (see related story).

(To view photos from both Northgate High signings, please visit: http://photos.times-herald.com/mycapture and click on Sports for the Photo Gallery.)

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