CLEMSON -- No one is second-guessing C.J. Spiller anymore.
After surprising many by returning for his senior season, Spiller capped a remarkable year by being selected ninth overall in the NFL draft by the Buffalo Bills on Thursday.
Spiller not only took home ACC Player of Year honors last fall, leading Clemson to its first Atlantic Division title, but the signature Clemson player also markedly improved his draft position.
Spiller was projected as a late first-round or second-round pick last spring, and on Thursday became the sixth Clemson player drafted ninth or higher.
Last year's ninth overall pick, B.J. Raji, earned $17.7 in guaranteed dollars, $11 million more than late-first round selections.
The selection was not a major surprise as Spiller had been linked to Buffalo in several projections, and was projected in the early to middle parts of the first round.
"When I laid down last night, I reflected on all of my visits and I just remembered all of my conversations that I had when I went up to Buffalo," Spiller said. "I had a good feeling that's where I was going to land. I'm very excited that they made the decision. It's one that they will never regret and I'm going to come in there and work hard."
Spiller, a native Floridian, also has cold-weather experience to deal with western New York's harsh winters.
OK, not much experience. But snow did fall on the close of Spiller's college career at the Music City Bowl
"It's great," Spiller said about the cold weather. "I'm not affected by it at all. I played at Clemson and it was cold there, so I'm not worried about the cold weather at all. You just have to adjust to it, and I'll be willing to adjust to it when I play."
After drafting Spiller, Bills general manager Buddy Nix gave a brief scouting report that could be verified by thousands of fans that have watched Clemson games the last four years.
Buffalo is hoping Spiller can be the next Thurman Thomas, injecting life into a lethargic offense.
"He is a playmaker," Nix said. "He's a guy that creates field position and scores points and he is exciting. We need some excitement, somebody that can make a big play and create things on their own."
After running a 4.37 second 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine, which included a blazing 20-yard spilt time, Spiller earned comparisons to Tennessee Titans star running back Chris Johnson. Spiller has also been compared to New Orleans back Reggie Bush.
They are lofty comparisons that Spiller will immediately be measure against.
"I try my best not to compare myself," Spiller said. "Every guy is very different and that's the thing that I kept preaching to teams when I was meeting with them that you're not going to draft either one of those guys. The guy you're going to be drafting is C.J. Spiller."
Spiller said he's not concerned about his role. He joins a team that invested a recent first-round pick invested in running back Marshawn Lynch.
"Whatever my role is, my main focus is just winning," Spiller said.
"Getting to a Super Bowl and bringing back the glory days that used to be in Buffalo. That's my main focus and all I'm worried about. I'm not worried about how I'll be used in the offense or how many catches I'll have. My main focus is just what can I do to help this team reach the Super Bowl."
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