Ohio State’s 2017 recruiting class has already made a strong impact on the field.
J.K. Dobbins won the starting running back job in the season opener and rushed for more than 1,400 yards and seven touchdowns.
Chase Young earned his way into a loaded defensive end rotation and racked up five tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks.
Jeff Okudah worked his way up the depth chart, seeing significant minutes in a number of games including nearly full-time duty in the Cotton Bowl win over USC.
Baron Browning was on the field from day one and had a season-high six tackles against Maryland. He’s now considered a front-runner to grab the Mike linebacker job for this fall with Tuf Borland out with an Achilles injury.
But while all of those players have already made their mark on the program, one of the highest-rated recruits in that class has yet to play a meaningful snap.
Cornerback Shaun Wade was a 5-star recruit, and the subject of a high-profile battle between Urban Meyer and Nick Saban.
He ranked as the No. 2 player at his position in the entire country. Only Okudah was rated as a better corner. That had even some of his teammates dreaming of the pair shutting down opposing passing games together.
Unfortunately for Wade, an abdominal injury derailed his 2017 season before it ever started. He had to sit out the entire year, watching his classmates making big plays in crucial moments.
“During the summer we were talking a lot about just going out there and making a big impact,” said Okudah. “So when he went down it kind of hurt me that he couldn’t play.”
Wade is healthy now, which means he finally has a chance to get back out on the field and show why he was one of the most sought-after recruits in the nation.
“Shaun’s done a really good job,” said OSU cornerbacks coach Taver Johnson. “He’s healthy now, he’s progressed every practice that we’ve had.”
Wade has looked impressive during the limited opportunities reporters have had to watch practice, and has a chance to break into the rotation for meaningful playing time this fall.
He doesn’t look like a guy who missed a whole season, and he doesn’t talk like one either.
“I know he’s coming back from an injury and things like that but he doesn’t allow that to be a crutch whatsoever,” Johnson said.
Marcus Williamson, another highly-regarded member of that 2017 recruiting class, said it’s a big boost to have Wade again.
“It’s great to see him back out there. You know, he missed a lot of time, but he picked up right where he left off,” Williamson said.
The cornerback unit is loaded with talented young players. But Okudah said that Wade’s game, and OSU’s plan to rotate players at the position, gives him a chance to make an impact this year.
“If we have enough corners that can play effectively on the field, then they’re going to see the field.”
Would be awesome to see a four man rotation with Sheffield, Arnette, Okudah, and Wade. The corners are as deep as ever right now.
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