Some will have concerns about Noah Spence’s character until he makes it to his second contract without an off-field incident. Until then, however, it seems only fair to take those who know the player best (former coaches) at their word.
From an on-field standpoint, it’s hard to find a negative opinion of Spence, who recorded eight sacks and 14.5 tackles for loss during his sophomore year at Ohio State. And as far as character endorsements go, the praise continues to reign in on the former Buckeye-turned-Colonel.
Last Wednesday Eastern Kentucky coach Dean Hood, via ProFootballTalk.com, said he had no problem reassuring NFL teams leading up to the draft that Spence’s checkered past was behind him. In fact, Hood believed that even before Spence’s 11.5-sack season at EKU in 2015 – one with zero failed drug tests – and that’s because Urban Meyer went out of his way to tout his former recruit.
“Urban stood on the table for the kid which he’s never done,” Hood told PFT. “Urban has never called me and said, ‘Here’s a kid that would do well with a second chance.’ Right away I knew Noah was a kid who needed that chance. From the moment he stepped on the field he was great. Our guys wanted to know if he would work and if he would be about the team and he was.”
Hood said he told scouts of Spence’s “outstanding” work ethic and “competitive rage” that’s uncontrollable but coachable. Teams need great pass rushers, Hood reminded, and he thinks Spence is well on his way – no concerns about commitment or maturity necessary.
“Because of his background, (front office people) had questions,” Hood said. “They were easy to answer.”
It’s no secret the Bucs’ brass agreed with Hood and Meyer’s assessment of the talented, yet somewhat disconcerting prospect. They selected him with the No. 39 overall pick and general manager Jason Licht told reporters at his post-pick press conference that they felt Spence was the most “pure” pass rusher in the 2016 draft.
Once Spence owned up to his mistakes, Licht said, the Bucs could see that he was sincere and ready to focus on football. Having Pro Bowl veterans to help guide him only made the decision to draft him easier.
“We feel like we have a very strong locker room, especially on defense with Gerald McCoy, Lavonte David some of those guys,” Licht said. “We thought (Spence) was immature at one point and he’s owned up to (his mistakes) and now he’s looking to move forward. He loves football.”
Throughout rookie minicamp, OTAs and mandatory minicamp, Spence has been as advertised. Coaches have praised his athleticism and flexibility in the system while teammates have been impressed by his quick progression. Between newcomers Spence and free agent signee Robert Ayers, and returning veterans Jacquies Smith and Will Gholston, the competition at defensive end will be one to keep an eye on at Bucs’ camp.
Zach is entering his 3rd year covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a writer for PewterReport.com. Since 2014, he's handled a large part of the beat reporting responsibilities at PR, attending all media gatherings and publishing and promoting content daily. Zach is a native of Sarasota, FL, and a graduate of the University of Tampa. He has also covered high school football for the Tampa Tribune and the NFL for Pro Player Insiders.
Contact him at: [email protected]
Spence was of my favorite players in this draft I’m still not sure if he is a hand in dirt DE in a 4-3 or better suited to play OLB in a 3-4 standing up guess we will see this yr.
Might see a little of both. Diversity….what a concept.
And you have seen us play a stand up LB rush the passer from the outside in Tampa? I haven’t! “diversity” great idea now tell the Bucs
Not often JonnyG that’s for sure. Even when McKay ran the 3-4 (then called a college defense); I don’t recall David Lewis or Cecil Johnson rushing the passer.
Hope to dpes well. Go Bucs!
My sentiments exactly Scubog. I think we’ll see a lot of both. Position flexibility, and a D.C. who’s willing to be flexible.
I can’t get fired up over him yet. We have had this before in Adams and Bowers. Great effort etc…..only to fail. After at least half a season we should be able to see what he brings to the team. Like everyone, I am hoping for the DE we have needed for years.
Agree that we shouldn’t buy in 100%, but the effort comparison is off, IMO. Both Adams and Bowers were known for not giving 100% in preparation and, at times, in games. If Spence steps up there, he’s already got a jump on those schmucks.
“Half a season,” jme0151?
This isn’t the SEC or the Big 12, this is the NFL.
Look at Warren Sapp’s sack totals for the first two years. If you had been the GM you would have cut him using your criteria.
As far as Bowers is concerned, he was never known for great effort.
The kid had a brief fling with MDA, otherwise known as Molly’s I believe.
The substance itself isn’t very addicting but he went into rehab anyway.
I’m the last person who would condone drug use but I don’t live in a Walton’s Mountain world either.
Sadly, nowadays the kid that doesn’t experiment with some kind of drug in college is more of the anomaly than the one who does.
America is known for the land of second chances. It’s one of the factors that makes this country so great.
Really like this Kid. Saw him a couple times at the international mall. Very humble guy. I’m pulling for him to break the 10 sack wall.
I have no worries about him off the field. If anything, I worry about the one-trick nature of his pass rush and his possible lack of elite athleticism for the position. If Spence doesn’t become a good or great NFL player, it won’t be because of MDMA. It will be because, like countless other college stars before him, he simply wasn’t good enough for the NFL.
Lots of promise, tons of potential. I think he’s got enormous upside, maybe the best of the entire draft among pass rushers. There’s a big downside with him, too, though.
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