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Pittsburgh Steelers 2019 Player Profile: Diontae Spencer

Continuing to take a look at some lesser known players trying to make a name for themselves, and claim a roster spot, with the Steelers.

CFL: 2018 CFL Eastern Conference Final-Hamilton Tiger-Cats at Ottawa Redblacks Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports

After going undrafted in 2014, Diontae Spencer took part in the Chicago Bears minicamp but left without a contract. He signed with the St. Louis Rams but was only on the roster from May to July.

After striking out to make an NFL team, Spencer went north to the Canadian Football League and signed with the Toronto Argonauts. In two seasons he racked up 107 receptions for 1,208 yards and six touchdowns. He accounted for 66 kickoffs and punt returns combined.

Spencer shined when he left Toronto for Ottawa before the 2017 season. While playing for the Ottawa Redblacks, he set the all-time CFL record for all-purpose yards with 496 in 2017. Of the 496 yards, 133 were receiving, 165 from kickoffs, and 169 punt return yards. Spencer ended the 2017 season with 70 receptions for 922 yards and six touchdowns. His return skills landed him a spot on the CFL-East All-Star squad with 70 punts and 25 kickoffs. Spencer ended up with 929 punt return yards and 607 kickoff return yards. Solid stats for a player who is 5-8 and weighs 163 pounds.

After the 2017 season, Spencer had a tryout with the Baltimore Ravens but he was not signed to a contract. The former McNeese State product instead resigned with Ottawa and landed on the CFL-East All-Star team once again. Despite catching 81 passes for 1,007 yards with seven touchdowns, he was selected for his return abilities. His combined punt and kick return yardage in 2018 was 1,664 yards with one touchdown.

Canadian Football League Stats

Year / Rec / Yards / TDs

2015 / 36 / 502 / 3

2016 / 71 / 706 / 3

2017 / 71 / 922 / 6

2018 / 81 / 1,007 / 7

Total: 259 / 3,137 / 19

Year / KO / Yardage

2015 / 27 / 555

2016 / 0 / 0

2017 / 25 / 607

2018 / 38 / 815

Total: 90 / 1977

Year / PR / Yardage

2015 / 6 / 43

2016 / 33 / 341

2017 / 70 / 929

2018 / 82 / 849

Total: 191 / 2162

At 27, Spencer will spend the summer living his dream while being a part of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Spence will need every bit of experience he learned in his time in the CFL along with his blazing 4.34 speed he showcased at his pro day in 2014 if he hopes to make the 53-man roster. To make the roster he will presumably have to do it as a return man. Two players may stand in his way. Ryan Switzer handled every return in 2018 except for two. Switzer’s numbers were not bad, but they were in the replacement level range, just outside of the top 10 average in both categories. Third round selection, Wideout and return man, Diontae Johnson role with the Steelers is yet to be seen. With his draft pedigree and college return stats, he will get plenty of opportunities to land either or both return gigs. If Thompson has a tough time transitioning to life in the NFL and Switzer continues to be middle of the road, Spencer could be that dark horse candidate to fill the roles. The CFL is not the NFL but if Spencer showcases his dynamic playmaking ability he showed in Canada the past two seasons, Pittsburgh may be left with some tough choices when the 90 man roster is cut down to 53 depending on if they keep five or six wideouts.