Honors & Awards
» NU Receiver of the Year (2018)
» Third-Team All-Big Ten (2018, Coaches & Media)
» Biletnikoff Award Preseason Watch List (2018)
» Paul Hornung Award Preseason Watch List (2018)
» Freshman All-American (2017, FWAA, USA Today)
» Third-Team All-Big Ten Wide Receiver (2017, Coaches)
» Honorable-Mention All-Big Ten Wide Receiver (2017, Media)
» Honorable-Mention All-Big Ten Kick Returner (2017, Coaches)
» BTN Big Ten All-Freshman Team Wide Receiver (2017)
» BTN Big Ten All-Freshman Team Kick Returner (2017)
» Nebraska Scout Team Offensive MVP (2016)
» Nebraska Scholar-Athlete Honor Roll (Fall 2016)
» Single-Game Receiving Yards Record (209 yards at Wisconsin in 2018)
» Freshman Receptions Record (55 in 2017)
» Freshman Receiving Yards Record (830 in 2017)
» Freshman All-Purpose Yards Record (1,572 in 2017)
2019 Season Outlook
Junior JD Spielman enters the 2019 season in position to compete for conference and national honors. One of the nation’s top returning receivers, Spielman is also poised to threaten Nebraska’s career receiving records, set last year by his former teammate Stanley Morgan Jr.
The 5-9, 180-pound Spielman will enter his junior season with 121 receptions and 1,648 receiving yards, putting him 68 catches and 1,099 receiving yards from Nebraska career records in each of those categories. Spielman already owns two of the top 10 single seasons in both receptions and receiving yardage, with his 66 receptions last season ranking third on the NU season chart.
This season, Spielman will be asked to be the veteran leader of a young Nebraska receiving corps. An elusive threat, Spielman is outstanding after the catch, creating mismatches in open space against defenders. He has also been a force in the return game the past two seasons. As a freshman, Spielman ranked among the nation’s best kickoff returners, and last season he handled Nebraska’s punt return chores.
Spielman has earned third-team all-conference honors each of the past two seasons, and is primed to contend for higher honors in 2019.
Spielman put up impressive numbers and school records as a sophomore. Although he missed the final two games due to injury, Spielman was still impactful enough to earn third-team All-Big Ten recognition. He started each of the first 10 games and caught 66 passes for 818 yards and eight touchdowns. His 66 receptions ranked third in school history, while his eight touchdown catches were seventh and his 818 receiving yards ranked ninth. Spielman caught at least three passes in all 10 games in which he played.
Spielman had a school-record 209 receiving yards at Wisconsin, giving him the only two 200-yard receiving games in Nebraska history. Spielman also had 10 catches against Purdue, becoming the only wide receiver in Husker history with two career double-digit reception games. With a 77-yard punt return touchdown vs. Bethune-Cookman, Spielman became the eighth player in school history to have both a punt and kickoff return for a touchdown. Spielman ranked sixth nationally in punt return touchdowns in 2018 and was 16th in receptions per game (6.6).
Spielman continued to flash his big-play ability in the season opener against Colorado, hauling in a 57-yard touchdown catch. The next week against Troy, Spielman had six receptions for 45 yards, including a seven-yard touchdown. At No. 19 Michigan, Spielman had four receptions.
Spielman had a big performance against Purdue, catching 10 passes for 135 yards and two touchdowns. Spielman’s two touchdown grabs were a career high, while the 10 receptions were the second-highest total of his career. With his then-season high of 135 receiving yards, Spielman eclipsed 1,000 career receiving yards. Spielman reached 1,000 receiving yards in his 15th career game, one game faster than Johnny Rodgers, who was the 1972 Heisman Trophy winner.
At No. 16 Wisconsin in the first game of October, Spielman caught nine passes for a school-record 209 yards, which ranked as the second-highest total by a Big Ten player during the 2018 season. Spielman hauled in a 75-yard touchdown in the third quarter for his longest catch of the season and his second career touchdown reception of 75 yards or longer. Fueled by his big receiving day, Spielman totaled 212 all-purpose yards against the Badgers, the third-highest total of his career. The next week at Northwestern, Spielman caught eight passes for 76 yards, including a 42-yard touchdown. He helped lead the Huskers to a win against Minnesota by catching eight passes for 77 yards, including a nine-yard touchdown. He recorded his 100th career catch against the Golden Gophers, becoming the first Husker to reach the milestone prior to his junior season.
Spielman played only the first half the next week against Bethune-Cookman, when he caught five passes for 72 yards. Although he saw his streak of five consecutive games with a touchdown catch snapped, Spielman returned a punt 77 yards for his first career punt return touchdown and Nebraska’s first punt return touchdown since 2014. The next week at No. 8 Ohio State, Spielman caught six passes for 61 yards, including a 17-yard touchdown. The touchdown catch was his eighth of the season, tying the Nebraska sophomore record.
Spielman had seven catches for 71 yards against Illinois before suffering an injury in the second half. The injury cut his sophomore season two games short, as Spielman missed the Michigan State and Iowa games.
Spielman was one of the nation’s top freshmen in 2017, setting several school records en route to conference and national accolades. After bursting onto the scene from his very first career touch – a 99-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the opener against Arkansas State – Spielman went on to post the top receiving game in Nebraska history and set Husker freshman records for receptions, receiving yards, 100-yard receiving games and all-purpose yards. Spielman was named a freshman All-American by USA Today and the Football Writers Association of America after leading all FBS freshmen with 830 receiving yards and 75.5 receiving yards per game. He also ranked second among all FBS freshmen with 142.9 all-purpose yards per game, 669 kickoff return yards and 5.0 catches per game.
Overall, Spielman ranked 13th nationally in all-purpose yards and was 40th in receiving yards per game. Spielman’s Nebraska freshman-record 291 all-purpose yards at Minnesota was the 10th-highest total nationally in 2017, and his school-record 200 receiving yards against No. 9 Ohio State ranked 23rd nationally and was the only 200-yard receiving effort by an FBS freshman in 2017. Spielman was also 23rd nationally in kickoff return yards. Situationally, Spielman led the nation in fourth-down catches (7) and receiving yards (89), ranked second nationally with 30 combined receptions on third and fourth down and was seventh with 23 third-down catches.
Spielman garnered second-team All-Big Ten accolades as a wide receiver from Phil Steele, was a third-team selection by the league coaches and an honorable-mention pick from the media. As a kick returner, he was named an honorable-mention all-conference selection by the Big Ten coaches. He led the Big Ten in kickoff return yards and kick return average and was third in all-purpose yards and receiving yards per game. He led all Big Ten freshmen in catches and receiving yards per game and was the only freshman to produce multiple 100-yard receiving games.
In conference play, Spielman became just the second Big Ten freshman since 1985 to lead the league in receiving yards per game during the conference season (88.1). Spielman tied Wisconsin’s Jonathan Taylor for second in the Big Ten with an average of 157.8 all-purpose yards per game in league play. His 200-yard receiving effort against Ohio State was the second-best performance of any Big Ten wide receiver in 2017, and his 77-yard touchdown reception against the Buckeyes tied for the second-longest reception during the Big Ten season.
A versatile athlete, Spielman owned the Huskers’ longest kickoff return (99 yards), longest rush (40 yards) and second-longest reception (77 yards). He led the Huskers in kickoff return yards and all-purpose yards and was second in receiving yards. Spielman averaged 17.1 yards per touch, and he had multiple catches in each of his 11 games, including a pair of games with at least nine catches. Spielman set an NU freshman record with 11 catches against Ohio State. Overall, Spielman’s 55 receptions tied for seventh overall in school history and his 830 receiving yards ranked sixth.
After scoring on a 99-yard run on NU’s first kickoff return of the year, Spielman also caught his first two career passes for 44 yards against Arkansas State, including a 35-yard grab. He caught two more passes the next week at Oregon before hauling in three passes for 52 yards in his first career start against Northern Illinois, when he also had a 50-yard kickoff return.
Spielman had five catches for 46 yards and his first career receiving touchdown in his Big Ten debut against Rutgers and had two catches for 25 yards at Illinois. In his first game against a ranked opponent, Spielman totaled six catches for 79 yards against No. 9 Wisconsin. He set career highs with 11 catches for 200 yards the next week against No. 9 Ohio State, including a career-long 77-yard touchdown reception. Spielman finished with 261 all-purpose yards against the Buckeyes. His 200 receiving yards were a school record and his 11 catches were a Nebraska freshman record and ranked third overall in Husker history. Spielman added six more catches for 70 yards at Purdue, and he totaled 195 all-purpose yards against Northwestern. He had two carries for 45 yards against the Wildcats, including a career-best 40-yard run. Spielman also caught three passes for 48 yards against Northwestern and returned five kicks for 102 yards.
In his return to his home state, Spielman caught nine passes for 141 yards at Minnesota and added a career-high 150 kickoff returns yards to finish with 291 all-purpose yards, a Nebraska freshman record, the highest total by any FBS freshman in 2017 and the second-highest total of any Big Ten player. After posting his second 100-yard receiving game against the Gophers, Spielman nearly hit the century mark again at No. 13 Penn State, finishing with six receptions for 96 yards to finish with 375 receiving yards and 489 all-purpose yards in his three games against ranked opponents. Spielman was injured at Penn State and missed the season finale with Iowa.
Spielman redshirted and worked on the scout team, where he earned Scout Team Offensive MVP honors.
Before Nebraska (Eden Prairie HS)
Spielman was an electrifying playmaker at Eden Prairie High School in the Minneapolis area. As a senior, Spielman helped Coach Mike Grant’s Eden Prairie team to an 11-1 record and a trip to the quarterfinals of the Class AAAAAA playoffs. Spielman rushed for 1,259 yards on just 102 carries for an average of better than 12 yards per rush, while scoring 19 rushing touchdowns. He also had 151 receiving yards and two touchdown receptions.
Spielman had 234 kickoff return yards and also totaled 241 yards on 12 punt returns. Defensively, Spielman had more than 100 tackles and a pair of interception returns for touchdowns. His play in 2015 earned Spielman recognition as the Minnesota Gatorade Player of the Year, the Minnesota 6A Player of the Year and the USA Today Minnesota Offensive Player of the Year. He also earned first-team AP all-state honors and first-team USA Today Minnesota all-state accolades as a running back.
Spielman’s game-breaking ability helped Eden Prairie to a perfect 13-0 record and Class AAAAAA state title in 2014. Spielman was a difference-maker on offense and in the return game and earned AP all-state honors as an all-purpose performer. Spielman was also on the Eden Prairie varsity squad in 2013 when the team went 12-0 and captured a state title.
In addition to his football skills, Spielman was a standout lacrosse player at Eden Prairie. He helped the school to a pair of state championships and originally committed to play lacrosse at Ohio State.
Spielman was ranked among the top three prospects in Minnesota by Rivals.com, ESPN and 247 Sports. Each of the three services ranked him among the top 50 athlete prospects in the country. Spielman chose Nebraska over offers from Iowa, Iowa State, Michigan and Minnesota. He participated in the Semper Fi All-American Game.
JD was born on Dec. 4, 1997. He is the son of Minnesota Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman and his wife, Michele. JD is a child, youth and family sciences major. He has volunteered with the Nebraska Football Road Race, Husker Heroes and local hospital visits. His uncle is former Ohio State All-American and NFL standout Chris Spielman, who is now an NFL analyst for Fox Sports.