Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields is projected as a top-five NFL draft pick, and Buckeyes cornerback Shaun Wade is being tabbed as a first-rounder.
However, despite the uncertainty surrounding whether or not there will be a college football season this fall, and despite the possibility still lingering of the season being moved to the spring, both of the Buckeyes’ stars say they have not been thinking about whether or not they should opt out of the season in order to prepare for the draft.
“I feel like people really have different situations on whether they should opt out or not,” Fields said during a teleconference on Tuesday. “Some people’s families might not be as financially stable as others, but me growing up as a kid, I’ve always been a competitor. I’ve always just loved to play football. Growing up with my family, I never really needed anything. I think my family has provided me with everything I’ve needed. So getting to the money as fast as I can isn’t really a priority for me.”
As Fields touched on there, he says that his focus has been on preparing for the 2020 season as if it will go on as planned in the fall and that he’s preparing for fall camp that begins on Friday instead of thinking about his future in the NFL.
“Just playing with my teammates and grinding every day with Coach (Mickey Marotti) during workouts and playing, that’s what I'm cherishing the most right now and really just looking forward to the season,” Fields said. “I’m just trying to stay as optimistic as possible right now. But, really, to opting out, I can see where those guys are coming from, but I necessarily haven’t really thought of it yet.”
Fields, of course, was not eligible to enter the 2020 NFL draft after having completed just his second year of college.
Wade, on the other hand, had the option to enter the draft following his redshirt sophomore season and was projected by some to be a first-round pick or a second-round pick, at worst. Instead, the Buckeyes’ slot corner chose to return for a fourth season in which the plan is for him to move from the slot to the outside, which could help him improve his draft stock.
Less than two weeks ago, both of Wade's parents – his father, Randy, and mother, Gwen – told First Coast News, a Jacksonville, Florida television station, that Wade would sit out the college football season if it eventually gets moved to the spring of 2021 due to concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic.
Wade, however, says he has not given any thoughts to that decision, and he says he does not regret his decision to return to Ohio State.
“I have no second thoughts and no thoughts about opting out,” Wade said. “Just really taking it day by day and trying to enjoy what we have right now. We’ve just gotta listen to the Big Ten and our coaches and go through day by day to see what they’re talking about. We’ve got the best of everything at Ohio State so we’ve been taking it serious. I really haven’t thought about opting out or anything like that, to be honest.”
Like Fields, Wade says his focus has not been on the NFL, instead focusing on his future at Ohio State as he and the rest of the Buckeyes prepare for training camp.
“Really, to be honest, I can’t think about that right now,” Wade said. “Right now, I’ve just gotta focus on camp. Like Justin said earlier, he was talking about the schedule, and we’re looking forward to that. We’re looking forward to playing the team up north and looking forward to playing who we play. But right now, as a team and myself, I’ve just gotta focus on camp. I can’t think about the outside world right now.”