ORONO, Maine — Humility is something Josh Spearin learned from his parents early in life.
The admirable trait remains very much intact as the young man from Limington goes through his senior year at the University of Maine.
Spearin is quick to downplay his accomplishments as an offensive lineman for the Black Bears football team, even though he is a four-year starter.
“I do put a lot of hard work in, but at the same time I’m surprised,” said the 6-foot-4, 295-pound product of Bonny Eagle High School in Standish. “I don’t view myself as [being as] good as other people view me. I’m real critical of myself and my techniques.”
Spearin will put his size, strength and experience to work again at noon Saturday on Morse Field when UMaine plays host to the University of New Hampshire in the 100th meeting between the two programs.
“He’s the combination of the best and brightest,” said UMaine head coach Jack Cosgrove.
Being a small-town Maine boy, Spearin never took anything for granted. His parents, Jeffrey and Heidi, taught him the importance of hard work in pursuing goals.
Spearin’s blue-collar background as the son of a construction worker made him want to make the best of the opportunities he receives. Playing college football gives him a chance to represent the entire state.
“My father taught me the ins and outs of being humble and not forgetting where you came from,” Spearin said.
“The things that make me want to be a good player are making my parents proud, making my friends and family proud,” he added.
Spearin followed in the footsteps of his older brother Matt, who played at UMaine from 2008-2010. Matt had put the Spearin name out there, but Josh knew it was only a start.
He established his own reputation at Bonny Eagle under coach Kevin Cooper, a former Black Bears assistant coach. The Scots won Class A state titles in 2007 and 2008.
Josh Spearin received his first scholarship offer from Northeastern University in Boston, which has since disbanded its program. That scholarship offer gave him a boost of confidence.
“I was always grateful to them because I felt it really got the ball rolling on some other offers,” said Spearin, who was also recruited by New Hampshire but accepted the scholarship from UMaine.
“I always thought I wanted to play at Maine because Matt was there,” said Spearin, who had hoped he might eventually get on the field with a lot of hard work.
Spearin made his collegiate debut Sept. 26, 2009 at Syracuse.
“Unfortunately, we had to play him as a true freshman because of some injuries and the fact he was good enough,” said Cosgrove, who would have preferred to give Spearin a redshirt year to get acclimated and stronger.
Spearin actually replaced his brother Matt at right tackle in 2009, which put him in an awkward position.
“I was upset when they played me over him, just because you never want to see your older brother, who you look up to, not starting over you,” explained Josh, who said it did not affect their relationship.
The Spearins then played side by side for a handful of games in 2010, but Josh suffered a knee injury that sidelined him for a handful of games.
“The games that I played with him, I enjoyed it. It was awesome,” said Josh, who has been the starting left tackle ever since.
Spearin has continued to exhibit improvement throughout his career. Last fall, he was selected for the All-Colonial Athletic Conference second team.
“He really made tremendous growth and strides last year,” Cosgrove said.
“He’s a very good technician. He practices hard and well all the time,” he added.
Spearin, knowing how difficult it can be to excel at the Division I level, initially hadn’t believed that kind of individual success would be possible.
“I didn’t think I was ever going to be a four-year starter,” he said. “I was intimidated, you know, being a Maine player.”
Spearin appears to be taking full advantage of his educational opportunities at UMaine. He is in the environmental science program with a concentration in soil and water quality.
Former student-athletic academic services adviser Myer Taksel steered him toward the program and he has embraced it.
Spearin has never viewed football as something he was going to pursue after college, although it is possible he will have that chance. He always knew he had to work toward a career.
“You’ve got to take something [an academic major] that you’re comfortable doing your entire life,” he said. “There’s no guarantees [in football].”
Once his football career is over, Spearin is looking forward to spending some time in the woods hunting deer, something that has been put on hold for several years by the sport he loves.
For now, Spearin is committed to helping 2-4 UMaine turn its season around.
“I’m going to miss the game a lot, but my mindset is, do the best I can with these next games and go out on a high note,” he said.