Eastern Kentucky defensive end Noah Spence runs through drills during practice for the Senior Bowl. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

MOBILE, Ala. — Noah Spence knew whenever it was his turn to go through the NFL draft process that everyone would ask the same question, and he arrived this week to the Senior Bowl ready for it. The Eastern Kentucky defensive end left Ohio State after he was suspended indefinitely by the Big 10 for failing two drug tests and ruled permanently ineligible from the conference.

How much has he changed since then?

“I already knew it was going to be real hectic towards to end, but shoot, I’m ready for it,” Spence said. “I’ve got nothing to lie about. It’s all out there. Shoot, the most I can do is just tell people what the story is and hope for the best.”

Spence transferred to Eastern Kentucky in his pursuit to eventually play in the NFL, and the former five-star talent dominated the Football Championship Subdivision. He finished with 11.5 sacks and 22.5 tackles for loss as a 4-3 defensive end in his only season with the Colonels. While questions will arise about his production on the FCS level, it wasn’t like Spence lacked statistical production at Ohio State. In his final season with the Buckeyes, Spence had 7.5 sacks and 14 tackles for loss as the “Viper” – a hybrid defensive end and outside linebacker in their 3-4 scheme.

I feel like they can flip on both tapes,” Spence said. “You can watch my tape at Ohio State, you can watch my tape at Eastern Kentucky – I really didn’t lose much. I felt like I got better as a football player.”

His ability as a passer rusher was on display in Mobile, but Spence knows how he presents himself to NFL scouts, coaches and executives will be just as important as his performance this week. When he found out he couldn’t remain in Ohio State’s football program, Spence said it was “almost like it crushed my dreams for a while, but I never let it crush me inside and my heart.” He felt driven by the situation to grow both on and off the field and used his faith to overcome the suspension.

“I just definitely wanted to become a better person before going to the NFL and try my best to keep getting better at football because I know I’m still not where I want to be,” Spence said. “I just wanted to show everyone that I’m still a good football player, and I can be an even better person off the field.”

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