Much publicity was given to Todd Marinovich back in the 1980s and early 1990s. Marinovich was the son of former USC Lineman, Marv Marinovich who was the first ever Strength and Conditioning coach in the NFL with the Oakland Raiders. Marv raised his son even before birth to be the perfect athlete. He was on a strict health food diet and was given vitamins and supplements and was not allowed any bad foods from day one. Todd Marinovich was also taught to work out from an early age.
In high school, at Mater Dei in Santa Anna, California he was the first ever freshman to start at Quarterback on the varsity. After his sophomore season, Marinovich moved to Mission Viejo because of his parent’s divorce.
But, he still wound up throwing for a nearly 10,000 career yards which was then a national record. Marinovich signed with USC and redshirted before taking over the starting job during his redshirt freshman season. He had a rough start but bounced back and finished strong as a freshman.
In two seasons at USC, Marinovich threw for 5,001 yards and then got busted for cocaine and declared for the NFL.
After being drafted in the 1st round by the Oakland Raiders, drugs effectively ruined his career. I am not going to pretend to know the behind the scenes details, but Marv Marinovich raised his son to be the perfect Quarterback and apparently, Todd Marinovich didn’t want to be that perfect Quarterback.
A couple states to the East lies the beautiful Rocky Mountain state of Colorado. The Colorado Buffaloes football team has been really good in the past. Under Bill McCartney, in the 1980s and 1990s they won a national championship. They were good for years after he left as well.
But, they have been struggling for quite a few seasons of late. They were in the Big 8 Conference before it merged with the old Southwest Conference to form the Big 12 Conference.
The Colorado Buffaloes have since moved on to the Pac 12 Conference where they have been on the bottom in the standings in recent years in football.
They hired Mike MacIntyre away from San Jose State. At San Jose State, his team went 1-10 his first season and then improved to 5-7 in his second year. His third season at San Jose State was excellent with the Spartans going 10-2.
It’s been a rough start at Colorado for MacIntyre. His first year he had his Buffaloes at 4-8. But, they took a couple of steps back in 2014 with a 2-10 record. But, they were so close to being so much
better. Against California and UCLA, they lost in Double Overtime. They lost to Oregon State by 5 points and to Utah by 4 points. They were just a few breaks away from being 6-6 and bowl eligible.
One of MacIntyre’s best players last year at Colorado was Wide Receiver Nelson Spruce from Westlake Village, California.
Nelson Spruce is the son of Neal Spruce a former competitive bodybuilder. Like Marv Marinovich, Neal Spruce had his son on vitamins from the womb. He taught his son proper eating habits and gave him an excellent work ethic. No junk food for Nelson Spruce as his Dad had him eating right from day one.
We’ve definitely heard all of this before since we all know the story of Robo Quarterback and the disaster that followed. We’ve all heard how Todd Marinovich used to sneak around behind his father’s back and eat McDonald’s whenever he could.
But, there may be a major difference between young Nelson Spruce and Todd Marinovich.
Apparently Spruce bought in to his father’s teachings, while Marinovich did not.
Nelson Spruce enters his senior season already holding or sharing 35 Colorado school records. Spruce redshirted as a freshman in 2011. During his first season, he caught 44 passes in leading the Buffaloes in receiving. As a sophomore, Spruce took a back seat to teammate Paul Richardson who caught 83 receptions. He did manage 55 as a sophomore. Richardson declared for the NFL, so Spruce had a monster season in 2014 with 106 receptions for 1,198 yards.
If Spruce makes it through his senior season uninjured and has another huge year as he did as a junior, expect him to get some attention from NFL scouts.
Marv Marinovich may have been a flake, and Todd wound up with a huge drug problem, but the theories seemed to have worked with the Spruce’s.
Nelson Spruce has chosen to follow his father’s advice and he’s stayed away from the fast food garbage like McDonald’s. So far, he has trained hard and eaten right and it’s paying off for him. Hopefully, it will pay off for one more season at least and he can gain a career in the NFL if that is what he chooses.
My own father never cared about sports, or diet, or working out, so I didn’t learn any of that until I was an adult.
Power to Neal Spruce for passing that on to his son and to his son for heeding his advice.