By BEN JOHNSON
Sacks were hard to come by against Northeastern State in 2012. The RiverHawks were one of the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association’s best in that department.
NSU ended up permitting 11 sacks on Johnny Deaton and Dallas McCutcheon, good enough to land the RiverHawks in a tie for 2nd in that category in the league.
In 2013, Buck Spurger — who signed with the RiverHawks out of Trinity Valley Community College — proclaimed that sacks would be just as hard to come by on his side of the line.
“My bread and butter is I like to run the ball,” said Spurger, a 6-foot-6, 340-pound offensive lineman. “I like to mash, I like to hit.
“But if they want me to pass block, you better have luck to get by me.”
Music to Deaton’s ears, for sure.
Spurger joins the RiverHawks a year after left tackle Michael Bowie was the lone departure from the offensive line. After Bowie was drafted by the Seattle Seahawks in the seventh round of the NFL draft, NSU moved Ethan James to left tackle, opening up a spot to possibly insert Spurger as the other bookend.
“You have all the time in the world on my side,” Spurger said of blocking on the right side of the line. “I got good at that at Trinity Valley. I used to be a big, slow kid from the country, but now I take good steps and look at what I’m doing.”
NSU head coach Kenny Evans said Spurger’s spot on the offensive line hasn’t been nailed down quite yet.
“(Spurger) has worked at both guard and tackle,” said Evans, going into his sixth season at the helm. “He’s more of a natural guard. Like I told him in the spring, it’ll benefit him to know both positions.”
Asked where he prefers to play, Spurger was non-committal while opting to leave that decision up to the NSU coaching staff.
“They like me at tackle because of my height, but at Trinity Valley I was a guard,” Spurger said. “It’s really up to (the NSU coaches). I’ll block wherever I need to be.”
Originally from Proctor, Texas, Spurger was a hot commodity coming out of junior college. Once he narrowed his choices of possible destinations, Spurger actually committed to the RiverHawks will touring the campus at Northwest Missouri State.
“I just didn’t like the people there; they just weren’t very friendly and nobody seemed to be too happy about nothin’,” said Spurger, an All-District selection while playing football at Comanche High School. “Misery is misery for a reason. I just didn’t make any friends during my time up there.
“I made friends for life the first couple of minutes I was here.”
Acknowledging Northwest Missouri State’s program prowess, Spurger said life in Maryville, Mo., just wasn’t for him. NSU — Tahlequah, more specifically — was closer suited to Spurger’s life back in Texas.
“I really liked Tahlequah,” Spurger said. “It’s bigger than what I’m used to but it’s not too big that I get that city feel. I can still get away and find country 10 minutes down the road.”