Ohio State cornerback Shaun Wade to return after briefly opting out
The week began with a declaration for the NFL, an intention to leave Ohio State in order to prepare for next year’s draft as uncertainty lingered over a football season this fall in the Big Ten.
But by Thursday, capping a whirlwind series of developments, star cornerback Shaun Wade had a change in plans.
Appearing during an evening edition of ESPN’s “SportsCenter,” he announced he would opt back in for the 2020 season, which had been reinstated the previous day with a late October start date.
“I’m going to come back and be a Buckeye,” Wade said during the telecast.
Wade told The Dispatch earlier this week that he had not signed with an agent, preserving his eligibility and allowing him to return for his fourth season with the Buckeyes.
It didn’t take much for him to reconsider a return.
“They didn’t cancel football,” Wade said. “Now it’s back. Since it’s back, we got a chance to win a national championship. That’s been my goal since day one. That’s what we strive for, and that’s what we’re going to strive for when we get back in October.”
He is the Buckeyes’ second opt-out to reverse course in the aftermath of the Big Ten’s decision to restart its season, following right guard Wyatt Davis, who said Wednesday he was also returning to the team.
Davis was one of two people at Ohio State to learn of Wade’s plans ahead of the announcement. The other was defensive coordinator Kerry Coombs, who also coaches the defensive coaches.
The players previously expressed frustration about the uncertain fate of the season, which was first postponed on Aug. 11 without a clear time frame for when it might resume. Wade’s father, Randy, had been one of the most outspoken parents of players who urged the conference to reconsider postponement.
A season delayed until as late as the winter months posed challenges for NFL prospects in their efforts to prepare for the draft, a lead-up that begins with the scouting combine in late February, potentially conflicting with games. Both Davis and Wade are viewed as potential first-round selections.
The season’s October start puts the Buckeyes in position to compete for a College Football Playoff national championship, an opportunity Wade embraced.
For him, last season’s semifinal exit was particularly stinging. In the second quarter of the loss to Clemson, he was ejected for a controversial targeting penalty following a hit on quarterback Trevor Lawrence.
“I can’t go out like that,” Wade said. “I got to come back and do great things for the Buckeye Nation, as well as my teammates.”
Wade said the defeat left a “sour taste.”
His return is a significant boost for Ohio State’s title chances.
Wade is the lone returning starter in the secondary, which must recover from the departure of two first-round cornerbacks in Damon Arnette and Jeff Okudah.
Without them, Wade has been slated to move from slot corner, the position he manned last season, to outside corner, where he would likely match up on bigger wide receivers or teams’ most prolific pass-catching targets.
Wade entered this fall as a preseason All-American.