Braxton Miller and Carlos Hyde have cemented their places in the Ohio State backfield. Quarterback and running back are coming off a season in which they combined for more than 4,000 total yards and 45 touchdowns. That’s ended any debate about who might be occupying said positions.
But if the spring is any indication, another Buckeye may be spending a lot of time in the backfield. Defensive end Noah Spence has turned heads since the Buckeyes’ first practice on March 5.
He’s made life miserable for offensive lineman Jack Mewhort who, according to head coach Urban Meyer, has already secured a spot as team captain. Mewhort and his fellow linemen proved to be an effective unit last season and were considered by most observors to be the Big Ten's best, but even they have no answer for Spence.
“I’m glad he’s on our team, that’s all I can say,” offensive line coach Ed Warinner said. “His speed off the edge is amazing. He’ll make (the offense) better because he gives us something every day to work on.”
Said Mewhort: “Noah Spence has gotten a lot better and has more confidence since the last time I played against him.”
Spence presented glimmers of that potential last season, when he appeared in 11 games and finished with 12 tackles, including a 20-yard sack in his first career game against Miami (Ohio). He spoke of a learning curve when he arrived on campus, and it was evident during fall camp.
Linemen that resembled tree trunks were far different than the twigs he outmuscled and maneuvered around during a five-star high school career. It helped shape expectations of immediate success. But Spence stayed realistic and just sought daily progress.
“Any time was good for me,” he said. “But I’m never satisfied with anything. I don’t think I did as well as I could have been. I want to do a lot better.”