Shaun Wade is staying at Ohio State for another year.
The third-year cornerback announced Saturday in his hometown of Jacksonville that he will return to Columbus for the 2020 season, providing a huge boost to what will be an otherwise inexperienced Ohio State secondary.
Although Wade has two remaining seasons of eligibility, he had reason to consider entering the 2020 NFL draft – he was projected as a potential first-round pick – but instead, he'll have an opportunity to boost his stock even higher by leading the back end of Ohio State's defense next season.
Wade played primarily at slot cornerback this past season, but he projects to move to outside cornerback in 2020, where he could help the Buckeyes replace outgoing starters Jeff Okudah and Damon Arnette. Wade indicated in his announcement interview with Lettermen Row on Saturday that the opportunity to play outside cornerback next season factored into his decision, as well as having another opportunity to compete for a national championship following the Buckeyes' playoff semifinal loss to Clemson.
“At the end of the day, I’m just trying to get to the natty,” Wade said in October when asked about his impending NFL draft decision. “That’s my dream, for real. Just to win the natty.”
Ultimately, the makeup of the secondary won't be determined until Ohio State hires a new defensive backs to replace Jeff Hafley, but either way, Wade is poised to be the star of the Buckeyes' secondary next season. Amir Riep is the top candidate to replace Wade at slot cornerback if he moves outside, while Cameron Brown and Sevyn Banks are the top candidates to play opposite Wade. Jordan Fuller, Ohio State's starting safety in 2019, has also completed his career with the Buckeyes; Josh Proctor is the top candidate to replace him in the starting lineup.
A five-star recruit out of high school, Wade performed up to the hype in his first season as a full-time starter in 2019. He earned third-team All-Big Ten honors and played a crucial and versatile role in the Buckeyes' new defensive scheme, locking down most of his opponents in pass coverage while also providing solid run-support, occasionally rushing the passer as a blitzer and showing a knack for making plays on the ball.
In his first two playing seasons with the Buckeyes, Wade has recorded 56 total tackles, four interceptions, two forced fumbles and 15 pass breakups.
With Wade's decision to continue with the Buckeyes for another year, Ohio State is expected to lose only three players to early entry into the 2020 NFL draft: J.K. Dobbins, Jeff Okudah and Chase Young, who all announced their intentions earlier this week.