Redshirt sophomore cornerback Shaun Wade has emerged as one of Ohio State’s top defensive playmakers this season. This has not come as a surprise to most, as when Wade flashed last season, it was clear that he had the potential to make a name for himself at Ohio State.
Wade was a five-star recruit in 2017 from Trinity Christian Academy in Jacksonville, Florida. He was ranked the No. 2 cornerback in the class — only behind current teammate Jeff Okudah. An injury sidelined him as a true freshman, but he has made up for lost time over the past year and a half.
And judging by his play so far in the first half of the Buckeyes’ season — and two more pass breakups his past Saturday against Northwestern, Wade has definitely been living up to the hype.
Wade has been a meaningful contributor on the Buckeye defense this year as the primary slot cornerback. In just seven games this season, Wade has stacked up quite the resume. He has recorded 15 total tackles, three tackles for loss, two sacks, a forced fumble, and seven pass breakups. His seven PBUs is third in the Big Ten.
Wade played in all 14 games last season as a redshirt freshman and he made the most of his playing time as the team’s nickel back, accumulating 31 tackles, a team-high three interceptions, seven pass breakups, a forced fumble, and a blocked punt.
His success this season has come from being a selfless team player who has demonstrated that he is athletic enough to make plays all across the field. He is trusted by his teammates and the coaching staff and they recognize his versatility in what they are trying to do defensively.
While his goal is to be a team player and contribute in any way to help the team win, personally, Wade is enjoying his role bouncing between rushing the passer and being out in coverage.
“You can do a whole bunch of different things,” Wade said. “You get to blitz, you get to be in the box if you like to tackle. It’s a lot of different things.”
It’s always a good sign when a player’s eyes light up when he talks about what he does on the field, and that is very much the case with Wade and his role in this defense. He likes seeing the reactions from the offenses as he lines up because they never know what he will do.
“It’s exciting out there on the field, the lineman is pointing at you like ‘he’s coming he’s coming’ and I don’t come… or I do come,” Wade said. “It’s just exciting seeing lineman point at you, like that’s never happened in my life.”
Wade’s performance so far this year has put him on the radar of NFL draft analysts (and NFL scouts) and his name is being tossed around as a possible first-round draft pick in the 2020 NFL Draft.
His ability to play multiple positions is beneficial to Ohio State but also adds to his draft stock and value for a future in the NFL.
Wade will have a decision to make at the end of this season. He has two years of eligibility remaining and he could again play a large role in the Buckeyes’ secondary next season, or he could potentially be a first-round pick come April.
Although he hears the conversations, Wade said he tries to only focus on the present and achieving his goals this season.
“At the end of the day I’m just trying to get to the Natty,” Wade said. “That’s my dream for real, just win the Natty.”