Shaun Wade won't be playing another snap for Ohio State.
Amid the ongoing uncertainty of whether the Big Ten will play football this fall, Ohio State's star cornerback has opted to forgo the season and declare for the 2021 NFL draft, he announced Monday morning.
“This has been an extremely difficult decision to make, but I know it's the right decision for me. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic and uncertainty surrounding our season I have decided to forgo my remaining eligibility and officially declare for the 2021 NFL draft,” Wade said in a video posted to his Twitter account on Monday morning. “I am forever grateful to Buckeye Nation and looking forward to the next chapter.”
Buckeye For Life pic.twitter.com/b0iP6Rqo4i— Shaun Wade (@shaunwade24) September 14, 2020
Wade, who was already projected to be an early-round pick if he declared for last year's NFL draft but chose to return to Columbus for a fourth year of eligibility, was elected as a team captain and was set to lead Ohio State's secondary while moving to outside cornerback after playing slot cornerback for the past two seasons.
On Aug. 4, the same day he was named one of the Buckeyes' seven captains for the 2020 season, Wade told reporters he did not regret returning for another year at Ohio State and was not planning on opting out of a fall college football season. After the Big Ten opted to postpone the season, though, Wade's father Randy said his son would not play if the season started any later than October. Wade had been back in Florida with his family in recent weeks as they waited to see if the Big Ten would reinstate the opportunity for Ohio State to play this fall, but even though it's possible the Big Ten could make a decision as soon as Monday, Wade decided he didn't want to wait any longer.
Thank you Buckeye Nation!— Shaun Wade (@shaunwade24) September 14, 2020
Forever a Buckeye! pic.twitter.com/VFjKukLpLV
Wade becomes the second Ohio State player to officially opt out of the college football season and declare for the 2021 NFL draft, joining right guard Wyatt Davis. Wade has chosen an agent, though he said Monday he has not yet signed a contract, potentially leaving the door open that he could return if Ohio State plays in October.
A preseason All-American who was expected to be one of college football's top defensive backs after earning third-team All-Big Ten honors last year, Wade is widely projected to be a first-round draft pick. He graduated from Ohio State in August with a degree in sport industry.
Now that Wade is leaving Ohio State, the Buckeyes will have no returning starters in their secondary whenever they return to the field. Sevyn Banks, Cameron Brown, Marcus Williamson and Tyreke Johnson are the leading candidates to be new starters for the Buckeyes at cornerback, while Josh Proctor and Marcus Hooker are the top candidates to start at safety in Kerry Coombs' defensive backfield.
Randy Wade was among the parents who were most vocal about trying to get a fall season reinstated over the past month, organizing a pair of protests that took place outside Big Ten headquarters and outside Ohio Stadium. Wade's father had said all along, though, that he was not only fighting for his son, but for all the Buckeyes to have a chance to play this fall, and that his son's decision would not be tied solely to whether that actually came to fruition.
“If Shaun don’t play this year, he has a good chance, God willing, to go in the first round,” Randy Wade said last month. “But there’s other kids that haven’t played that’s been waiting all their life for this moment.”