Spiller 9th overall pick in NFL draft by Buffalo

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Spiller will be playing with the Buffalo Bills next season
Spiller will be playing with the Buffalo Bills next season

Former Clemson running back C.J. Spiller became the third Clemson player in the last five years to be selected in the first round of the NFL draft when he was selected with the ninth overall pick by the Buffalo Bills Thursday night at Radio City Music Hall in New York City.

Spiller was joined in New York for the draft by his mother, brother, sister, daughter, pastor and Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney and his wife Kathleen. Spiller is the third Clemson player to be invited to New York for the draft. Chester McGlockton was present for the draft in 1992 and Gaines Adams was in New York for the 2007 NFL draft.

Bills General Manager Buddy Nix told Chris Brown of Bills.com that the Bills got a “playmaker.”

“He’s a playmaker that creates field position and scores points,” Nix said. “We need excitement, someone that can make things happen on his own.”

Nix was asked about the future of Marshawn Lynch, the running back who was picked in the first round [12th overall pick] by the Bills in the 2007 draft, now that the Bills have added Spiller.

“It doesn’t change a thing,” Nix said. “We intend for him to be here. Spiller’s a hybrid.”

Spiller told Brown that he had a feeling Buffalo could be in his future after a pre-draft visit.

“I had a good feeling coming out of my visit to Buffalo that I could wind up there,” Spiller said.

By being taken in the first round, Spiller became the third Tiger to be chosen in the first round in the last five years. Tye Hill was the #15 pick of the 2006 draft by the St. Louis Rams and the late Gaines Adams was the #4 pick of the 2007 draft by the Tampa Bay Bucs. Spiller is also the third straight Clemson first round selection to also earn first-team All-America honors and graduate in the year he was drafted.

His legacy at Clemson is as undeniable as his accomplishments:

*He returned eight kicks (seven kickoffs and one punt) for touchdowns, tying an NCAA all-time record.

*Was one of just two players in Clemson to account for a score in five different ways (touchdown pass, rush, reception, punt and kickoff returns) His scoring ability in 2009 was second to none, as he was the only NCAA Division I player to register a touchdown in every single game.

*He is the ACC’s active scoring leader (with 308 points). The milestone made him the 16th player in conference history to do so. In his career, he had 21 touchdowns of 50 yards or more.

*Along with Reggie Bush (USC), Spiller amassed 3,000 rushing yards, 1,500 kick return yards, 1,000 receiving yards and 500 punt return yards. The two are the only in college football history to do so.

Spiller is the first Clemson running back taken in the first round since Terrence Flagler was the #25 selection of the draft by the San Francisco 49ers in the 1987 NFL draft. He is also the first player on offense to go in the first round since wide receiver Rod Gardner was the #15 pick in 2001. Adams was Clemson’s last first-round selection in 2007 when he was taken by the Bucs.

Spiller’s selection as the number-nine player in the draft was the sixth highest selection in Clemson history and the highest since Gaines Adams was the number-four selection of the 2007 draft by the Tampa Bay Bucs. He is the highest drafted offensive player from Clemson since Jerry Butler was the number-five selection of the 1979 draft by the same Buffalo Bills. Spiller was the first running back selected and the first ACC player chosen.

Spiller is the first Clemson player drafted by the Buffalo Bills since 1982 when Perry Tuttle was their first round selection, the #19 pick of the draft. Butler was the last Clemson player taken by the Bills prior to that, so the last three Tigers drafted by the Bills have been first round selections.

Clemson has had five former players play for the Bills over the years, including Butler, who was a starting wide receiver for the franchise from 1979-87. He was the AFC Rookie of the Year with the Bills in 1979 and is still seventh in Bills history in reception yards and 10th in total receptions.

Spiller was a unanimous first-team All-American in 2009 when he led the Tigers to the Atlantic Division championship of the ACC, and a #24 final AP ranking. He rushed for 1212 yards and had 503 receiving yards to go with five kick returns for touchdowns in 2009 when he was named the ACC Player of the Year. He was the only Division I player to score at least one touchdown in every one of his team’s games last year.

Spiller spoke via conference call about the draft Thursday evening and had this to say:

On if he had any idea he was headed to Buffalo:

When I laid down last night I reflected on all of my visits and I just remembered all of my conversations that I had when I went up to Buffalo. I had a good feeling that’s where I was going to land. I’m very excited that they made the decision. It’s one that they will never regret and I’m going to come in there and work hard.

On the decision to return to Clemson in 2009 and pursue his degree:

Just like you just said, I wanted to graduate and then of course play one more year with my guys. You only get one chance to be a senior in college and I just wanted to experience that. But the main focus was for me to graduate which I accomplished.

On the reaction he got from the Board of Trustees when he decided to return for his senior year:

I was not expecting that at all. I was honored and it was a humbling experience. Like I tell guys, you never know who is watching you both on and off the field so I try to carry myself the best that I can.

On what he knows about the Bills’ offense and what he learned during his visit in Buffalo:

It’s a great offense. Coach Gailey knows how to use his guys so I’m excited. They have two great running backs that started with Marshawn (Lynch) and Fred (Jackson). I’m just looking forward to going in there and learning from the guys. Whatever my role is, that’s what I have to accept.

On who he looks up to and his comparisons to Tennessee RB Chris Johnson and New Orleans RB Reggie Bush:

I try my best not to compare myself. Every guy is very different and that’s the thing that I kept preaching to teams when I was meeting with them that you’re not going to draft either one of those guys. The guy you’re going to be drafting is C.J. Spiller. Those two guys (Chris Johnson and Reggie Bush) are great. It’s an honor to just be mentioned amongst those two because of what they have done in the NFL.

On if he wants to be an all-purpose player in the NFL:

Whatever my role is, my main focus is just winning, getting to a Super Bowl and bringing back the glory days that used to be in Buffalo. That’s my main focus and all I’m worried about. I’m not worried about how I’ll be used in the offense or how many catches I’ll have. My main focus is just what can I do to help this team reach the Super Bowl.

On what he thinks about cold weather:

It’s great. I’m not affected by it at all. I played at Clemson and it was cold there, so I’m not worried about the cold weather at all. You just have to adjust to it and I’ll be willing to adjust to it when I play.

On what game in his career stands out the most to him:

I want to say the ACC Championship game. Whenever you’re playing for a championship it’s always great and the way the game was going back and forth it was an awesome feeling. Two great teams going at each other trying to win the ultimate prize and that was the championship. Unfortunately we fell on the short end, but sometimes that’s how it goes.

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