Heading into the 2014 NFL offseason, it was very much expected the Philadelphia Eagles would be adding a kicker in order to push incumbent starter Alex Henery. Thus, many were not surprised to see the Eagles sign Vanderbilt kicker Carey Spear in undrafted free agency. They were surprised, however, to see his big hits and learn of his glorious nickname: "Murderleg".
In order to learn more about this mythical kicker, I contacted Vanderbilt SB Nation blog Anchor of Gold. Christian D'Andrea was kind enough to answer my Spear questions and had some worthwhile information to share.
Spear overcame a rocky start at Vanderbilt to become one of the most reliable kickers in school history. His tireless work ethic developed him into Vandy's single-season scoring record holder. He botched a chance to spur a VU upset over Arkansas back in 2011 by missing a 27-yard FG late in a 31-28 game, but used that mistake as a turning point in his kicking career. Since then, he's made 81% of his field goals, including 4 of 5 from 50+ yards. His leg strength on field goals clearly grew as his time with the team did as well - though he topped out at 54 yards for his college career, I'd be (reasonably) confident in his strength and accuracy up to 57-58 yards right now based on what we saw from him last fall.
Of course, what sets him apart from other kickers is his enthusiasm for special teams. He was one of Vandy's more reliable tacklers on kickoff duty, and that was a role he relished. He averaged about 63 yards per kickoff last year, an increase of more than 1.5 yards on his junior year (though he averaged 64.4 yards as a sophomore). 46 of his 66 kicks went for touchbacks, but that was also due to the NCAA moving the kickoff line five yards closer to the opposite end zone. He'll have to continue improving and get more kicks through the end zone to unseat Henery, but he certainly has a shot to do so. He has the ability to be better than the Eagles' incumbent in both key aspects of the kicking game.
2) Any good Spear stories?
Carey Spear: lunatic on the field, saint off of it. This kid filled his days with volunteer work and was a regular at the children's hospital on campus. He ended up being recognized by Allstate for his work and was named to the Good Hands Team, but that really scratches the tip of the surface. By all accounts, he was a great teammate and a person who had no problem leading by example.
My favorite Spear story? That Missouri game in 2012. Spear gets clipped kicking an extra point by Mizzou's TJ Moe. He spends the commercial break before the ensuing kickoff staring him down from 70 yards away, finishing his glare with a death point. And then, seconds later, this happens:
Carey Spear is not the kicker you want to f*** with.
3) Anything else we should know?
I could not be happier that this "MurderLeg" name is taking off. If there's any kicker in the NCAA that deserved more exposure, it's Carey Spear.
Thanks again to Christian and don't forget to check out Anchor of Gold. We'll be hearing from Christian again shortly on the topic of new Eagles wide receiver Jordan Matthews.