Marquiss Spencer

Former Greenwood High standout Marquiss Spencer (42) returns an interception during Mississippi State’s win against Vanderbilt earlier this season. The fifth-year senior declared for the NFL draft on Wednesday night via Twitter. 

Former Greenwood High School standout and current Mississippi State senior Marquiss Spencer announced on Wednesday night his intentions to enter the NFL draft and not return for a sixth year in Starkville.

“I would first like to give honor to God for His guidance, protection and providing me with the talent to participate in the sport that I hold dear to (my) heart,” Spencer said on his Twitter account. “Many thanks to my mother and father, my entire family and support system for their loyalty and love. Much gratitude to the bulldogs family of Mississippi State University ... my coaches both present and former, my teammates/brothers ... because of all of you, I am a much better me!”

Spencer's season was cut short when he suffered a stinger to his neck against Auburn as he made a hit on Tigers' running back Tank Bigsby. The play resulted in a targeting penalty and ejection against Spencer. He was carted off the field by MSU's athletic staff. He did not play in the final regular season game or the bowl game against Tulsa.

“This is an opportunity for me to move on and prepare for myself for the NFL,” Spencer said Thursday. “My time at Mississippi State helped me become a man and prepare for the future. I got my degree in interdisciplinary studies and minors in business and psychology. I did some studying to prepare for the future in the NFL and life.”

The 6-foot-4, 295-pound Spencer was having a productive season for the Bulldogs, who finished 4-7 with their win in the Armed Forces Bowl. He had 30 total tackles in nine games with eight tackles for loss, three sacks and one interception. He finishes his career with 106 tackles, 22.5 tackles for loss, seven sacks, four pass deflections, three forced fumbles and a fumble recovery.

He played in 12 games as a true freshman in 2016 and 13 in 2017 as a sophomore. His junior campaign was cut short due to an injury and received a medical redshirt. In 2019, he had 37 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss and two sacks.

He played under three different head coaches — Dan Mullen, Joe Moorhead and Mike Leach — and four different defensive coordinators in Peter Sirmon, Todd Grantham, Bob Shoop and Zack Arnett.

Spencer is a two-time SEC Academic Honor Roll member and MSU graduate.

Spencer was named the Greenwood Commonwealth's Player of the Year in 2015, his senior campaign. He had 20 quarterback sacks and 27.5 tackles for loss. He racked up 134 total tackles.

Spencer did it all for Greenwood that season as he punted, averaging right at 40 yards per punt. He also lined up at tight end and receiver, recording four catches for 92 yards and two touchdowns. He was 2-of-2 passing on fake punts for 108 yards and a touchdown.

The Bulldogs went 12-2 and made it to the North 4A title game, losing to eventual champion Noxubee County 14-7.

As a junior in 2014, Spencer made the All-Commonwealth team as an all-around player. On defense, he recorded 81 total tackles with 25 sacks and five fumble recoveries. He also did the punting and place kicking as he made 19-of-28 extra points during the season.

“Marquiss is one of the greatest football players I have ever coached,” said GHS head coach Clinton Gatewood. “He most definitely can not only play on the next level, but he can go in and start for a team. He just needs to stay healthy and push people for a starting position.”

Gatewood said Spencer was being heavily recruited by other teams in the Southeastern Conference after his showing at camps at Ole Miss, Alabama and Mississippi State. However, the first two schools wanted him as a tight end, but Spencer wanted to play defense.

“His heart was set on going to Mississippi State,” said Gatewood. “When they saw his speed and quickness, they knew they wanted him on their defensive line.”

Contact Calvin Stevens at 581-7234 or

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