Noah Spence’s NFL career was in jeopardy after he made permanently ineligible by the Big Ten for failed drug tests while at Ohio State. He’s turned things around, and has already made a huge mark with his new team.
Spence transferred from Ohio State to Eastern Kentucky, and wound up being selected in the second round by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He recorded 5.5 sacks as a rookie, good enough for a spot on NFL.com’s All-Rookie team. However, that’s not what impressed the Buccaneers staff the most.
According to CBS Sports‘ Pete Prisco, Spence’s handling of a bad injury early in the year is already “legendary around the Tampa Bay Buccaneers complex.”
Spence popped out his shoulder in a game last season against the Broncos, popped it back in himself, went to the sideline, his helmet was taken away for precautionary reasons, and yet he fought with everything in his power to get it back on the field and return to the game. He didn’t that day, but he did the next week.
“It’s hard keep him off the field,” Bucs general manager Jason Licht said.
Spence suffered partially torn labrum and a dislocation of his shoulder in the Week 4 game, a 27-7 loss, but he was back playing the next week at Carolina, which told the Bucs brass plenty about their young pass rusher.
Spence’s former Buckeye teammates called him the “next Von Miller,” and Urban Meyer was shocked that he didn’t go in the first round. One year in, and it definitely seems like the Bucs got themselves a steal.