In April, he committed to Texas Tech, where former Steele coach Mike Jinks is now an assistant. But about a week before Signing Day, Texas Tech informed Noel the school would like him to grayshirt — yes, another one of the many “shirts” in college football — where an athlete does not enroll until the spring semester, delaying the start of his eligibility clock while also allowing the school to count his scholarship for the following class.
“I really didn't want to do that at all,” Noel said, “because I knew I could go up to any (other) school in June and do what I can do ... That made me kind of mad.
“So I had to rush around and reopen my recruiting. I just thank God that the phone started buzzing, like every minute.”
Noel was set to go on an official visit to Boise State when Spencer called with the blueshirting proposition.
It was a bit of a leap of faith for Noel, since he had never been to campus or met the coaches in person. But he jumped at the chance to stay in Big 12 country.
“I was happy and truly appreciative about it,” Noel said of the opportunity to blueshirt. “Plus, being around Texas and being around Big 12, it's really what I wanted to do.”
In Noel, OSU gets a raw, work-in-progress type of player who switched from defensive line to the offensive side last season. Coaches have told him he moves well for his 6-3, 300-pound size, but he still has some room to grow on the mental side of playing offensive line.
“The biggest thing is D-line is more reaction,” Noel said. “You're not so much thinking before every play about what you've gotta do. O-line, I had to make everything count, every movement had to count ... there was so much thinking.”
Noel has spent the last week or so introducing himself to Cowboy fans via Twitter, even asking what he can expect from his future college environment. He plans to make an unofficial visit to Stillwater in the spring.
And while he won't appear as a Cowboy signee in February, he will be a scholarship player by the season opener.
“I'm kind of late,” Noel said. “The new kid on the block.”