Spielman went in, made 10 tackles, deflected a pass and forced the fumble that enabled Ohio State to win. He was ready.
Today his game is so complete that Spielman knits his brow and thinks...but cannot cite a weakness in it. Speed? He runs a 4.6 40. Pass drops? "I do those pretty well." Plugging the run? He had 105 solo tackles last season, more than the likes of Tom Cousineau, Marcus Marek or Randy Gradishar ever made in their best years.
Spielman does offer this self-criticism: "I guess sometimes I'm over-aggressive. Sometimes when I make a great play, I come off the field and I'm hyperventilating. I need more of a controlled insanity."
At Washington High, where the team draws more than 10,000 spectators a game, Tigers learn early how to handle pressure. But Spielman will never know the absence of that pressure. It is a solid rocket booster in him. After it's ignited he can't switch it off Solemnly, almost chillingly, he says, "There's no way I've played my best football. My goal is to be the best that ever played."