Five games into the season, junior defensive back Marek Spooner-LeDuff has already made a name for himself as the “ball hog,” his teammates said. Spooner-LeDuff, who transferred to Chapman this semester from Santa Monica College, has the ball in his hands often for a defensive player.
His four interceptions rank second in the conference and also leave him tied for 13th in Division III football in interceptions per game.
“I didn’t start playing defense until I came to college,” he said. “I played offense my whole life in football. Being from the offensive side, I have a good nose for where the ball is going to be. It gives me an advantage.”
Spooner-LeDuff first attended the University of Idaho, a Division I school, for one semester before transferring.
“Three weeks into the season, the NCAA told me I was one credit short from being eligible to play,” he said. “They were going to take a year of eligibility away from me, but I felt it was unfair, since I was never eligible to begin with.”
Spooner-LeDuff said he took a “medical opt-out” and left the University of Idaho.
“(It is) like I never went there,” he said. “I didn’t receive any credits for going there.”
He then transferred to Santa Monica College, where he completed two years of school before coming to Chapman.
“Santa Monica College is one of the number one transfer schools with great academics,” Spooner-LeDuff said. “They won their conference for the last five or six years, so I knew they had a good football program and I was going to be with a great coach.”
When deciding where to transfer after Santa Monica College, Chapman was not the only school Spooner-LeDuff considered. He also had the opportunity to attend Oregon State University and play football there.
“I’m not really looking to play football professionally,” said Spooner-LeDuff, a communications major and computer science minor. “I want to work on virtual technology and communications.”
Spooner-LeDuff sviewed Chapman’s small community as a benefit to transferring.
“When I was at the University of Idaho, I didn’t know all my teammates,” Spooner-LeDuff said. “Here, I can really consider all my teammates my friend. It’s a lot more personal and you get to know everyone at a great level.”
Defensive coordinator David Bishop said that he sees Spooner-LeDuff’s “athleticism” as one of his strengths, but that he has room for improvement.
“His size, coupled with speed, gives you a corner which can pair up with tall wide receivers,” Bishop said.“His biggest thing he needs to work on, which I think he’s doing a good job at so far, is learning to play at the four-year level, constant, every play effort and be in great physical condition.”
Bishop said Spooner-LeDuff’s interceptions make him an asset to Chapman.
“Turnovers are probably one of the most important things (in football),” Bishop said.
“Fumble recoveries, interceptions and sacks correlate more to winning than any other thing we can keep track of.”
Senior wide receiver Kayvan Aminzadeh played with Spooner-LeDuff for a year at Santa Monica College before also transferring to Chapman.
“Marek has always been a great football player since I have known him,” Aminzadeh said.
“He played multiple positions at Santa Monica and succeeded anywhere he played on the field. Now, at Chapman, he has a solidified role on the team where he can make plays whenever the ball is thrown his way.”