High School Sports

Biloxi senior goes from an undersized lineman to a hot target on the recruiting trail

Following his mom’s lead, Ryan Spiers was the rare offensive lineman who carried the label of a “healthy eater.”

While his teammates on the Biloxi High School line ate everything in sight in order to pack on the pounds, Spiers typically had options like chicken, broccoli and sweet potatoes on his dinner table at home.

After playing his junior year at 6-foot-2, 230 pounds, Spiers realized that he had to get much bigger if he was going to grab the attention of college coaches.

The solution was a simple one.

“He just started eating food,” Biloxi head coach Katlan French said. “He has gained somewhere around 40 pounds since last season.”

Spiers is now almost 6-foot-4, 275 pounds and he added the weight without straying too far from his previous diet.

“It’s just incorporating more protein in my diet,” he said. “I was always a healthy eater because my mom was like that. Instead of eating bad carbs like donuts to put on weight quick, I incorporated two more meals in a day and one more protein shake. The weight came on. It was awesome. It came on so fast.”

As he began to add the pounds, Spiers realized that he had to make sure that that the new weight wouldn’t slow him down.

“I started killing it in the gym, killing it during football,” he said. “I got down to a slim 275. I don’t even look like I’m 275. It’s awesome. I can move so well with it. It’s amazing. I’ve got way more power than I’ve ever had.”

If college coaches want to watch film from Spiers’ junior campaign, it’s mostly a waste of time. He enters his senior year as a stronger, quicker and more refined lineman.

While making the rounds at several camps this summer, Spiers has proven that he’s now a much more attractive college prospect.

UAB, South Alabama, Louisiana-Monroe, Jacksonville State and Southeastern Louisiana have all offered scholarships since late March. Over the weekend, Spiers picked up his biggest offer yet on a visit to Atlanta — Georgia Tech.

Auburn and a couple of other ACC programs, Duke and Wake Forest, have also shown interest and it’s easy to understand why those highly-respected academic institutions have gotten involved when you consider Spiers has an ACT score of 31 and a GPA of 3.9.

Some college coaches have told Spiers that they are waiting to see how he performs during the first few games of the 2019 campaign. If his performance during practice is any indication, they won’t be disappointed.

“I just feel the ease of being able to move people,” Spiers said. “I used to have to really dig deep to move people. I use the same amount of power, but I just absolutely drive straight through people. It’s not a struggle anymore.

“It’s night and day. You can’t compare a guy that’s 6-2, 230 to a guy who is almost 6-4, 285. I have a completely different athleticism and I’m able to keep the speed with it. You can’t beat that.”

Spiers, who will likely line up at right tackle after playing guard a year ago, is part of a Biloxi offensive line that returns four of five starters from last year’s group — one more season to believe that the Indians are ready to make a significant improvement on last year’s 4-7 campaign.

“I’m extremely excited about this year,” Spiers said. “We have Chad (O’Neal) at quarterback and he’s a big-time playmaker. The guys have matured a lot.

“I think we’ve come to a point as an offensive line that our goal is to make our running back (junior Krisshun Kendrick) the No. 1 running back on the Coast. We want him to rush for the most yards. We have the guys this year. Everybody on the field is capable at any moment to make a big play.”

Patrick Magee is a sports writer who has covered South Mississippi for much of the last two decades. From Southern Miss to high schools, he stays on top of it all.