The tall and athletic Ladner has favored Cal for quite some time and finally had the opportunity to fly out west and check out things firsthand with an unofficial visit to campus. His experience reinforced all that he’d previously felt –the Cal was the place for him.
“It’s exciting. It’s good for Spencer,” said Pembroke Hill Head Coach Sam Knopik. “He’d been interested in Cal from the get-go and having the opportunity to be out there close to his brother’s a good thing for him. He called me last night really excited and just knowing that it was going to be a really good fit for him. He was just as high as a kite. Then when I saw him this morning, he was already sporting some Cal shorts.”
“My visit to Berkeley was amazing,” said Ladner. “I pretty much did everything. I got to tour campus, see all the facilities and meet all the coaches along with Nate Longshore, Justin Forsett and Craig Stevens. They were really good guys.
“The campus was great and the town of Berkeley really caught my eye. The environment there just really helped me seal my decision. I definitely saw myself enjoying myself there for the next 4 or 5 years."
Coming from a challenging academic environment like private school Pembroke Hill, Ladner looks forward to the academic challenges and opportunities presented by Cal.
“Cal’s reputation and the fact that it’s the #1 public school in the nation and one of the best overall was another big reason why I chose Cal. It’s going to be a great opportunity for me when I hang up my cleats.”
Ladner also cited Cal’s proximity to his brother Ben, a redshirt sophomore at Stanford in making Cal a perfect destination for him, with the ability for his family to be able to see to see both brothers on their visits.
One would expect that a player with significant varsity experience as well as success would be a natural leader on the field. Knopik confirmed that Ladner fits the description.
“He’s a great leader for us,” said Knopik. “He’s done a great job watching the older players and picking up good leadership skills and has modeled good leadership skills himself. I’ve really seen it a lot this off-season, with him being a real positive leader in the weight room and on the practice field. There’s just some inherent leadership qualities with a guy who’s big and talented and a guy who exhibits so many good qualities and an ability to get guys to follow his lead.
“We’re a pretty small school with 200 boys, so Spencer has played varsity since he was a freshman. But we compete at the 3A level in Missouri, which is right in the middle of our classifications and you have to be really good to play as a freshman. I think his first game as a freshman, he took a fade rout 60 yards to the house –against a pretty good team. He’s been doing that kind of thing for a couple years now. He’s even thrown for a few td’s on double passes.”
“We just really felt like we needed to get the ball in Spencer’s hands last year so we split him out a lot, kind of like Missouri does with their tight ends. They rarely put those guys in 3 point stances.
“But we used him for lots of stop routes and he’s so big and athletic that we felt like we could just put the ball up in the air on fade routes and he’d just go up and get it. We’re going to use him in more of a traditional tight end role more often this season, though.
“He can be the total package. He’s real strong (315 bench press) and he’s put on some good weight and muscle since his sophomore season."
In his sophomore season, Ladner compiled 25 receptions for 492 yards and 5 tds to go along with his impressive junior season with 620 yards and 11 td’s as well as the 3 td’s through the air.
Ladner also excels on the hardcourt, earning 3A All-State for his state runner-up Pembroke squad, averaging 22 points and 10 rebounds per game.
The Bears beat out some stiff competition for Ladner, who had received offers from Michigan, Wisconson, Oklahoma, Missouri and multiple other programs
To view the profile for Spencer Ladner:
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