Maybe his seven interceptions, four blocked punts, and 41-yard average on kickoff returns has something to do with it.
Earlier this year against Rock Valley (Ill.), Spievey had a 94-yard interception return and a 96-yard kickoff return on consecutive plays — one to end the first half, the other to start the second.
Spievey (pronounced Spi-VAY) is Iowa Central’s 187-pound left cornerback and special teams standout, originally recruited by the University of Iowa from Middletown, Conn. He’s at Iowa Central for much the same reason receiver Clinton Solomon was a few years ago: to become a star — in the classroom.
Like Solomon, who eventually returned to Iowa City and became a productive component on two very good Iowa teams in 2004 and ’05, Spievey wants to get back to Kinnick Stadium, back to the Big Ten — back to where the crowds are big and the rewards are potentially great.
And he can’t do that without Iowa Central.
‘‘I want to follow through and get back to Iowa. It’s my dream,’’ he said.
Iowa Central coach Kevin Twait sees plenty of similarities between Spievey and Solomon’s situations.
‘‘Obviously, we are the beneficiary of a strong relationship with (the) Iowa (football program). Amari’s situation is very similar to Clinton’s. He’s here to make academic progress. Iowa is very interested in making sure things are going well in the classroom and socially for him.
“As a football player, he’s among the top two or three players I’ve coached here in 12 years.’’
Spievey’s journey from a state championship season his senior year at Xavier High School in Middletown has been a long one. He arrived at Iowa in the fall of 2006, got homesick, got physically sick and barely survived his redshirt year.
‘‘I wanted to go home. I was ready to quit. But my mom and my dreams stopped me. I’m the first member of my family to go to college. I want to be able to take care of my mother.’’
Ramonda Spievey calls her son every day.
The Midwest Football Conference is made up of nine community college teams from Iowa, Illinois, Michigan and North Dakota. It’s a tough, athletic league, full of outstanding players, but generally ignored by media outlets unless you are in Fort Dodge, Mason City or Iowa Falls where the only three Iowa teams headquarter. Last week, for instance, Iowa Central played North Iowa Area Community College on a high school practice field because the field in Mason City’s stadium was too wet.
That’s a long way from Michigan’s Big House or Ohio State’s Horseshoe. But it’s Amari Spievey’s world now, and his ticket back.
North Iowa tried a handful of times to throw in Spievey’s direction. Spievey caught three of them.
‘‘I want a challenge. I want them to throw in my direction because I want to get better as a football player. We played a game earlier against (College of) DuPage and they only threw it my way once the whole game.’’
In high school, Spievey was a running back and receiver. He loved to watch Randy Moss, Deion Sanders and highlights of the long retired Barry Sanders.
‘‘I was used to having the ball in my hands,’’ he said.
A terrific athlete, he could play on either side of the ball for Iowa Central and probably at Iowa too, though he’s now comfortable as a cover corner.
As a special teams player he’s been deadly, and he doesn’t see many kickoffs reaching him either. He doesn’t return punts, but he blocks them.
Spievey knows the game won’t be this easy for him on his return to Iowa. He will have three years of eligibility for the Hawkeyes if he finishes his A.A. degree at Iowa Central in the spring, which he is on target to do.
‘‘His grade checks have been good,’’ Twait said.
Spievey’s short-term goal is to help the 10th-ranked (NJCAA) Tritons (7-1 overall) win out. His long term goal is to get back to Iowa, help the Hawkeyes recover from this tumultuous season, and then pay back his mom for the love and support.
‘‘I’d like to get a (NFL) contract and take care of my mom,’’ he said. Then he quickly added, ‘‘a degree would be good too.’’
Photo by Paul DeCoursey
Iowa Central's Amari Spievey returns an interception at Dodger Stadium earlier this season.