For defensive end Noah Spence, a future in the NFL once seemed like a certainty. After a series of mistakes—taking Molly, a form of ecstasy, and then lying about it—led to his dismissal from Ohio State’s football team, though, he faced a long road back to the gridiron, and to fulfilling a dream he has harbored since childhood.
Heading into the 2016 draft, Spence is seen as a red-flag prospect: a player whose talent is without question, but whose off-the-field history is littered with them. Now he must convince NFL general managers and coaches that he has changed, and he can point to more than a year of clean drug tests and one excellent season at Eastern Kentucky as proof. Most importantly, Spence must tell his story—warts and all—so NFL executives can decide whether he is worth a first-round pick. He told that story to SI’s Andy Staples in the debut episode of Draft Season, a special Sports Illustrated podcast mini-series.
Draft Season will take listeners behind the scenes of one of the most anticipated events in sports, and will offer a look into the experience of a different prospect every week. Each pick is a player. Each player has a story. This is Spence’s.