Shaun Wade is coming back.
During an appearance on ESPN's SportsCenter on Thursday night, Wade announced that he will return to Ohio State to help the Buckeyes chase a national championship this fall.
“I'm gonna come back and be a Buckeye and really go strive for this national championship like I was back in January,” Wade said.
Wade initially opted out of the college football season on Monday to begin his preparation for the 2021 NFL draft, citing uncertainty regarding the upcoming season and lack of communication from the Big Ten about the decision to postpone. But with the Big Ten announcing Wednesday that its season will begin in October, giving Ohio State the opportunity to compete for a College Football Playoff berth once again, Wade decided to opt back in.
“Back in January, I didn't go to the (2020) draft, and my goal was to come back, be a captain, get my degree and the Big Ten for football now is back,” Wade said. “We've got a chance to win a national championship. That's been my goal since Day 1. So that's what we're striving for, and that's what we're going to strive for when we get back in October.”
When Wade became the second Buckeye to opt out of the season on Monday, joining Wyatt Davis, he said he had not given much consideration to the prospect of returning to Ohio State if the Buckeyes were able to play in the fall.
“I haven’t thought about it, because right now I have made my decision, but if they do in a time period that’s the time before I sign, I might think about it,” Wade told Eleven Warriors on Monday. “So we’ll see.”
After Davis made the announcement that he would opt back in on Wednesday, however, Wade decided to follow his lead, giving him one more chance to make a run at a national title after the Buckeyes' devastating loss to Clemson in last year's College Football Playoff semifinals.
Wade said Davis was the first person he told that he was returning, and that defensive coordinator and secondary coach Kerry Coombs was the only other player or coach he told he was coming back before the announcement.
MUnbelievable! The maturity & selfless nature of this young man AND this team will be legendary at OSU! #ShaunWade #icantbelieveigettocoachhimagain! #thanksRandyandGwen #letsgoooooo! #herecometheBuckeyes #loveofyourteammatesisreallypowerfulstuff! #BIA! #Fight pic.twitter.com/jrueoDpHS9— Kerry Coombs (@DB_CoachCoombs) September 17, 2020
“As soon as he found out, Wyatt was happy,” Wade said. “We was talking, I just told him, I'm going to come back too, because at the end of the day, we both came back for a reason, that's to get that natty.”
Wade, a 2020 captain and a potential first-round pick in the 2021 NFL draft, will be the only returning starter in an otherwise inexperienced Buckeye secondary and is expected to be one of the best defensive backs in the entire nation.
With Wade's decision to return, Ohio State no longer has any players who have opted out of the 2020 season, and should have a full 85 scholarship players available to play this fall.
During his appearance on The Ryan Day Show on Thursday, Coombs hinted at a potential return for Wade, saying “Let's hope that's not his final play” after co-host Jim Lachey noted that it would be unfortunate if Wade's career ended with his targeting ejection from the Fiesta Bowl. And Wade said Thursday that he was a reason why he decided to return to Ohio State – for the second time this year – and play this fall before starting his professional career.
“We had a sour taste last year with Clemson, but this year, we got a great team, great leadership on this team, and we're just looking forward to it,” Wade said. “I can't go out like that, on that last targeting play. I've got to come back and do great things for the Buckeye Nation and just for my teammates. So really looking forward to it.”