Eastern Kentucky University defensive end Noah Spence made official Friday what became apparent Tuesday: The redshirt junior will enter the 2016 NFL Draft.
EKU announced Tuesday that Spence would play in the Senior Bowl on Jan. 30, which signaled his desire to turn pro early.
On Friday, Spence released a statement to that effect.
“After much thought and careful consideration, I have decided that it's time to turn the page and write the next chapter in my life,” Spence said in a news release. “I will be entering the 2016 NFL Draft to pursue my lifelong dream of playing professional football. I hope to someday use my NFL career as a platform to inspire others and bring positive changes to the community.”
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Spence was named the 2015 Ohio Valley Conference Co-Defensive Player of the Year in his one season at EKU after transferring from Ohio State.
The 6-foot-3, 260-pound Spence is potentially a first-round selection. He left Ohio State following a sophomore season in which he was named first-team All-Big Ten after reportedly failing two drug tests. He is a redshirt junior now and is graduating this weekend from EKU.
“I want to thank Eastern Kentucky University, my coaches, especially Coach (Dean) Hood, Coach (Jake) Johnson, my teammates, classmates, and Colonel fans for giving me a second chance.” Spence said. “I'm grateful for the opportunity and will always be a proud alumnus of this great university. Graduating from college has been the capstone of a very humbling chapter in my life.
“Most importantly, I must thank my family for being there for me throughout my entire journey,” Spence added. “I couldn't have done it without you, and I can't emphasize enough how much your unconditional love has meant to me. You motivate me, and I want nothing more than to make you proud.”
Spence finished the 2015 season ranked fourth nationally in tackles for loss (2.0 per game), fifth in sacks (1.05 per game) and 22nd in forced fumbles per game (0.27).
Overall the Harrisburg, Pa., native had 22.5 tackles for a loss and 11.5 sacks, the fourth-most in EKU single-season history. He also contributed 63 tackles (31 solo), 15 quarterback hurries, forced three fumbles and recovered two fumbles.