PISCATAWAY, N.J. — The interception required some acrobatics.
As he covered Rutgers receiver Bo Melton on the second play Saturday of Ohio State’s win, Shaun Wade tipped a pass in the air, then corralled the football as he fell onto his back.
“I saw the ball was short,” Wade said, “so I just tipped it to myself, really.”
While he was on his back, waiting for the ball to drop, he had only one thought.
“Just go catch it,” Wade said.
It was the first interception of the season for Wade, a sophomore cornerback, and he made sure to celebrate when he returned to the sideline. Wade flashed the money sign with his right hand, rubbing his fingers together before tossing the ball to a staff member.
Handed possession at its 40-yard line, Ohio State’s offense scored a touchdown four plays later.
Wade was a part of a reworked secondary at Rutgers. Cornerback Damon Arnette did not play for undisclosed reasons, leaving sophomore Sevyn Banks to make his first start, opposite Jeff Okudah.
In some situations, the Buckeyes had Wade rather than Banks line up as the outside cornerback during the first half, having him switch between there and nickel back when they used five defensive backs.
Though the team did not explain Arnette’s absence, he has dealt with a wrist injury, wearing a cast on it, and during the first off week in October he underwent a procedure on it.
Arnette was on the sideline and in uniform. He had not missed a game this season, though he missed stretches of previous games.
Coach Ryan Day said Arnette was still “good.”
Wade had a big game in his absence. Not only did he have the interception, but he also forced a fumble on Rutgers’ second series, leading to another Ohio State touchdown after the Scarlet Knights were handed favorable field possession.
“Really, my mindset is I did that, now let's do some more,” Wade said.
After he had three interceptions last season, Wade was eager to get his hands on the ball again.
“As a football player, it's going to come to you,” Wade said. “You’ve just got to be patient.”