Deuce Spann was an accomplished quarterback in high school, accounting for nearly 7,000 offensive yards as a passer and rusher as well as 72 total touchdowns at St. Petersburg Lakewood High.
Spann quickly learned at Illinois that his future in college would be at receiver.
“It was kind of tough for me to switch my position to receiver because I always wanted to be a quarterback at first,” Spann said on Thursday in his first interview with the media covering FSU. “But I saw when I was at Illinois I could help the team at receiver, help them win games so that’s the main reason I switched. I wanted to help the team.”
Spann made the move before the 2021 season, playing in nine games and grabbing five passes for 124 yards while also earning Academic All-Big Ten recognition. The 6-foot-4, 195-pound Spann also had a 33-yard touchdown reception against Virginia and a 31-yard touchdown catch vs. Texas-San Antonio.
In December, Spann opted to transfer and quickly knew what he was looking for in his next school: A college close to home, a connection with a coaching staff and a program that would help his development as a receiver.
“I kind of did want to come back home so it would be easier for my family to come see me play,” Spann said. “It was a big factor for me. Being back in Florida, my family gets to come down and see me all the time. When I was at Illinois, they couldn’t really see me because I was too far away from home. It’s been good being back in Florida.”
Spann said his mom and some cousins are FSU fans. He reflected back to his high school recruitment and said he had conversations with Willie Taggart’s staff. “I always wanted to come to Florida State a long time ago,” Spann said.
With the coaching change from Taggart to Mike Norvell, Spann opted instead for Illinois. The Illini staff helped Spann make the move to receiver, getting him up to speed with route-running and reading defenses. Spann said he feels comfortable now but admits he has plenty to learn.
“I feel like I can improve on everything,” Spann said. “I feel like I can get stronger, get faster and just work on my technique so I can be a better receiver than I am right now.”
Spann said he built a good rapport with the FSU coaching staff, which explained how he could develop and how they would use his skills.
“Deuce is a tremendous athlete with a great combination of size and speed who is coming back home to the state of Florida,” Norvell said. “The sky is the limit for what he can become, and we are excited about his development.”
While he didn’t throw a pass or return kicks of punts, it’s plausible Spann could be used as a wildcat quarterback or on special teams. But for now he is immersed in FSU’s offseason conditioning workouts and learning the playbook from the receivers.
The addition of Spann has given FSU seven receivers who are 6-2 or taller, a group that includes Joshua Burrell and Jordan Young (6-2), Darion Williamson and Kentron Poitier (6-3), Spann and Malik McClain (6-4) and Johnny Wilson (6-7). An ability to go up and catch passes, as well as a catch radius in the open field, could help upgrade a receiving room that has been short on production but now has more game experience.
“All the receivers have been helpful,” Spann said. “They’ve been telling me stuff about the playbook and things like what the coaches like to do in practice. They’ve all been helpful.
“The receivers that are here now, they all want to work. They all want to know the playbook so that they can play. Everybody’s trying to work here to be good.”