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Noah Spence intends to apply for early NFL draft entry

Noah Spence's college football career has been a difficult journey, and he's ready to end it.

The former Ohio State star defensive end, now at Eastern Kentucky, announced on Friday that he intends to apply for early eligibility into the 2016 NFL Draft.

"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, per the Lexington Herald-Leader. "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."

Once one of the most feared pass rushers in the Big Ten, Spence was suspended and later declared ineligible due to a pair of failed drug tests. Not long after his appeal for reinstatement was denied, Spence transferred to EKU, where his career has flourished once again. He was named the Ohio Valley Conference Co-Defensive Player of the Year this season, recording 22.5 tackles for loss, including 11.5 sacks, for the Colonels.

Where Spence's NFL draft stock lies isn't easy to ascertain. NFL Media's Lance Zierlein named Spence as one of the edge rushers to watch in college football this season, noting his prolific talent but also his off-field concerns.

The mystery of where he'll stand with NFL scouts will begin to unravel next month in Mobile, Ala., where he'll participate in the Reese's Senior Bowl and get a chance to be interviewed by NFL clubs that will no doubt probe his troubled past.

*Follow Chase Goodbread on Twitter **@ChaseGoodbread*.

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