05/11/04 — Michael Spicer signs with Bills as free agent

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Michael Spicer signs with Bills as free agent

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on May 11, 2004 1:58 PM

Michale Spicer waited, but the call never came.

Would the Western Carolina standout get drafted, or would he need to try out again at different camps?

The Buffalo Bills removed any doubt from Spicer's mind after the 2004 NFL Draft had been completed nearly two weeks ago. The administration wanted Spicer in their organization and signed him to a three-year free agent contract.

"As soon as the draft was over, five or six days later, they called me and put in the best offer," Spicer said. "They were the best fit for me."

Buffalo had just four defensive ends on its roster upon the conclusion of last season. The Bills signed Spicer and Tennessee's Constantin Ritzmann, along with 16 other free agents at different positions.

Jacksonville had courted Spicer, but the Jaguars were returning at least eight defensive ends. Spicer didn't see himself fitting into their system and felt that Buffalo was his best choice.

"When you're a free agent, it's better than getting drafted because you don't get to choose where you want to go," Spicer said. "(Buffalo) was the best situation for me.

"I'm happy to be able to get the opportunity to play."

Spicer is the total package.

The 6-foot-2, 270-pounder can pass block and run, and has certainly proven his mettle on the collegiate level. His career numbers at Western Carolina speak for themselves.

A two time All-Southern Conference pick and 2002 All-American selection, Spicer shattered the Western record for career tackles for losses (58). He recorded 29 career sacks -- one shy of Louis Cooper's school record.

This past season, Spicer had 16 tackles for losses, including 7.5 sacks to rank second in the conference. He showed his great athleticism with an interception versus Elon, while also playing fullback in short-yardage situations. Against Southern Conference champion Wofford, Spicer scored on his only rushing attempt, finding the end zone from one yard out.

He had a slow start to the season due to an injury. However, he ended the year as a consensus All-Southern Conference pick and played in the annual Blue Gray All-Star Classic.

As a junior, Spicer led the Southern Conference and set a WCU single-season record with 26 tackles for loss. He additionally ranked second in the conference in sacks (11), while ranking seventh nationally in both tackles for loss and sacks.

Spicer didn't attend any combines, but got considerable looks from scouts at "pro days," held on campus. Scouts don't reveal their evaluations to the players, but they spend numerous hours talking with the coaching staff.

Scouts also watched Spicer in the Blue-Gray game.

"That's like a tryout right there," a grinning Spicer said. "I was disappointed that I wasn't drafted. But then again, everybody is disappointed when you're not drafted. The Bills have someone on their roster that's been there eight years and he was never drafted.

"The (Western) coaches knew I had the ability to play on the next level."

Spicer's contract doesn't have any incentive clauses. He also said that he's with the team for three years and doesn't have worry about preseason cuts, or trades.

A former Southern Wayne standout, Spicer reports to Buffalo on May 16 to begin training. Preseason practice starts July 31. The Bills open the season Sept. 12 at home against Jacksonville. The nationally-televised game kicks off at 1 p.m.

"It feels good," Spicer said. "I feel very blessed."