'I need surgery or I'm going to go blind.' Ohio State DL Noah Potter describes eye ordeal

Bill Rabinowitz
The Columbus Dispatch

Noah Potter will wear a visor inside his helmet this season.

“I hate it,” the Ohio State defensive lineman said Thursday.

But Potter is grateful to have to wear it. The Mentor native knows it is a minor concession after a scary ordeal last year that could have ended his career.

“I’m just excited to get back to playing what I love,” Potter said.

In September, the Ohio State defensive lineman believed he was close to returning from foot surgery when he noticed problems with the peripheral vision in his right eye. Potter believes it was a football injury but can’t pinpoint a specific incident.

He went for an examination, and from the way he saw OSU doctors conferring, he could tell it was something serious.

“They told me my retina tore off — it detached — and I need surgery or I’m going to go blind in my eye like in the next 30 minutes,” Potter said. “I was like, ‘Oh crap.’ ”

Surgeons at the William H. Havener Eye Institute performed the operation and saved his vision. But the recovery process was difficult.

“It was probably the worst experience of my life,” Potter said. “It was terrible. I could feel the stitches in my eye, but I got it fixed. They put in a gas bubble to keep the shape in it.

At 6-6 and 275 pounds, Noah Potter has the frame to be able to play end and tackle.

“With eye surgery, the shape of the eye gets a little deformed. My eye shape was in a perfect sphere for a little bit, and then fluid can get inside the eye just by opening it up.”

To prevent that, Potter had to rest on his side for four days. He could move out of that position for only five minutes per hour.

Noah Potter:'What a crazy past 24 hours': Noah Potter announces he's had surgery on his eye

That wasn’t the only hurdle. Two weeks into recovery, doctors tested to make sure that scar tissue from the surgery had receded enough to avoid a second surgery. Fortunately, it had.

“I’m just grateful for the doctors that they were able to fix it,” Potter said.

With his foot and eye fixed, he is now hoping to make an impact on the field this year.

“I feel good,” Potter said. “I’m getting back to it.

“There’s always rust. You can only do so much in the training room, so trying to get back to football shape is probably the biggest transition.”

At 6 feet 6 and 275 pounds, Potter has the frame to be able to play end and tackle.

Noah Potter (97) tackles running back Evan Pryor during the Ohio State spring game on April 17.

“I’m confident wherever I am,” he said. “I think I bring a different flavor to the D-line if I’m inside, but in the (2020) COVID year, I was really starting to play well on the outside. I think wherever coach J (defensive line coach Larry Johnson) sees fit, I think I’m ready to go.”

Potter acknowledges that the foot and eye injuries caused him to lose his football passion temporarily. But it has returned.

“I’m gaining confidence every day,” he said. “I kind of lost that drive after two really serious things happened. I’m like, man, I’m just trying to get healthy. But now that I’m healthy, I’m really starting to get that drive back to want to be the best player I can, so I’m really excited about that.”

Bill Rabinowitz covers Ohio State football for The Columbus Dispatch. Contact him at brabinowitz@dispatch.com or on Twitter @brdispatch.

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