When news broke that Ohio State junior defensive lineman Noah Spence had failed his second drug test, some believed he had made his last appearance in a scarlet and gray uniform.
While that could still be the case, coach Urban Meyer doesn’t seem ready to give up on the Pennsylvania native just yet.
“I’ve been criticized for many years about (how) I treat these guys like they’re my kid, and I’m not a big fan of dismissal,” Meyer said Monday. “I just don’t do that very often. It’s gotta be a severe one (situation), where you’re hurting someone else.”
Spence, who was a first team All-Big Ten selection by the media in 2013, was suspended for three games in January for testing positive for ecstasy. After sitting out the 2014 Orange Bowl, Spence also sat out the first two games of this season.
The defensive lineman was set to return for the Buckeyes’ third game of the season against Kent State, however, until the news of a second failed drug test surfaced less than 24 hours before the game. The failed test resulted in another violation of OSU and Big Ten rules, leaving Spence sidelined indefinitely.
Meyer said along with his staff, he’s trying to do what’s best for Spence.
“We’re doing our very best to (see) what the future holds for Noah, I have no idea, but to throw him to the street, I didn’t feel like that was appropriate just yet,” Meyer said. “And we’re going to do the best we can to help a guy that was a academic All-Big Ten, good student, great family, that has a problem, and it’s our job to help him, and I don’t think you will ever see our staff ever do that, say you’re out, in that kind of situation.”
Junior linebacker Joshua Perry said Monday that he and the rest of his team are trying to support Spence as much as possible.
“This is a time where you gotta surround him with people who care,” Perry said. “You can’t abandon him. I think that guys on our team understand that he is dealing with a really tough thing in his life. To be around him, I think, has made a difference.”
While Meyer acknowledged that Spence is no longer practicing with the team, Perry said members of the team have made a concerted effort to keep Spence a part of the Buckeyes.
“Guys will go out of their way to say hi to him or visit him at his apartment,” Perry said. “I think it is the right thing to do and you got a group of guys, especially on our defense, who care a lot about him. We want to be there to help him.”
The Buckeyes’ next game — with or without Spence — is scheduled for Saturday against the Cincinnati Bearcats. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m. at Ohio Stadium.