The No. 5 player on this list missed his true freshman season and spent last year floating between nickel, corner, and safety, but may finally have a permanent temporary home at safety this season.
No. 5 — Shaun Wade, Redshirt Sophomore Defensive Back
Shaun Wade was a 5-star signee for the Buckeyes in the 2017 class. He was ranked the No. 17 player overall and the No. 2 cornerback in the nation.
He signed early and took part in spring ball. He had some nice plays late in the spring game and led the Scarlet squad with six tackles, all solo.
Wade wasn’t able to play during the season due to an abdominal tear, so he redshirted. Last year was his first action for the Buckeyes, coming mostly in a nickel back role. He also spent much of the season practicing at safety while also getting time at cornerback.
Wade started twice last season, once as the nickel against Purdue and then at safety the following week against Nebraska.
He finished with 31 tackles and led the Buckeyes with three interceptions and 10 passes defended. He also added a blocked kick to his havoc.
What He Does Well
Perhaps better than anybody else on the Ohio State roster, Shaun Wade finds the football.
As a cornerback in high school, his ball skills stand out. As a Buckeye, he has led the team in interceptions in each spring camp he has participated in.
Wade’s natural position is at outside cornerback, so playing in the slot has been a learning experience. Even while learning, however, he has proven to be a big hitter who can arrive at the same time as the ball.
The next step will be doing something with the football when he gets it in his hands.
Shaun Wade In 2019
This being his second year in the slot — be it as the nickel back or the starting strong safety — Wade should be more comfortable than ever, which could lead to a lot of big plays in 2019.
In fact, this spring, cornerback teammate Jeff Okudah said secondary coach Jeff Hafley told them that Wade could have 15 interceptions in the Ohio State defense this year.
While that projection might be a tad high, it is not unheard of for a redshirt sophomore safety to explode onto the college football scene at Ohio State — just ask Malik Hooker.
Wade was the No. 1 strong safety in the spring for the Buckeyes, and if he is still there in the fall, he has the potential to be No. 1 on this list. If somebody else is at safety and Wade is “only” the nickel, he should still warrant Top 5 prominence.
What They Are Saying
“What I think is best for Shaun is to learn how to play inside, whether you call it a safety or a nickel, that’s invaluable for him. So I want him to be able to play outside and play corner, inside and play nickel, have the ability to drop back. I want to teach these guys how to play the game. I don’t want them to just be pigeonholed into one position. I want them to play football and learn different positions because I think it will help us and then I think it will help them in the future.” — Jeff Hafley on Shaun Wade midway through the spring.
“They’ve taught us a lot of technique. They’re teaching us zone, so I know what the linebackers are doing, I know where the safeties are going to be. I felt last year, we didn’t know that. We didn’t know where our help was.” — Shaun Wade on what the secondary has learned from coaches Jeff Hafley and Matt Barnes.
“Learning more, learning more technique, different techniques that I can use. So I can use the inch technique or stepping lateral technique or whatever. Learning more zone, different types of disguises to be in man, but it looks like we’re in a zone. Just learning different disguises, learning more about our system.” — Shaun Wade on what he learned in the spring.