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No matter where he lines up, Ohio State defensive back Shaun Wade is looking to make plays in 2019

After nabbing a team-high three interceptions in 2018, redshirt sophomore defensive back Shaun Wade is looking for even bigger things in 2019.

NCAA Football: Ohio State at Michigan State Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

“I just want to play football, for real. Whenever they need me, I’m going to play. So if in one game they need me at corner, I’ll play corner. One game they need me at safety, I’ll play safety.”

Ohio State defensive back Shaun Wade via Dan Hope, Eleven Warriors

Defensive back Shaun Wade came to Ohio State as one of the most highly-touted defensive recruits in the class of 2017, and now that he is entering his third year with the Buckeyes, Wade will be looking to make some noise on the field. After recording 63 tackles and seven interceptions for Trinity Christian Academy in Jacksonville, Fla., Wade was named the USA Today All-USA defensive player of the year. Wade committed to Ohio State as the No. 2 cornerback prospect in the recruiting class, only trailing Jeffrey Okudah, who also committed to Ohio State.

Wade’s career at Ohio State got off to a rough start, as abdominal surgery sidelined him in 2017, leading to a redshirt in his first year in Columbus. The defensive back started to make up for some lost time last season. Wade was Ohio State’s top slot cornerback in their nickel defense, and played at least 23 snaps in each of Ohio State’s final 13 games of the season. The redshirt freshman also showed some of his versatility, playing every snap at safety against Nebraska. Wade finished the season with a team-high three interceptions and recorded 31 tackles, seven pass breakups, a forced fumble, and a blocked punt.

While there’s no question that Wade will see plenty of time on the field in 2019, what is not known is where he’ll be lining up. Wade played 15 snaps at the cornerback/safety hybrid spot in the spring game, he could also see some time at the spot vacated by Kendall Sheffield. There is also a possibility that Wade could see time at the traditional safety spot. A lot of where Wade lines up in 2019 will likely depend on the matchups and types of offenses that Ohio State will face.

The future for Wade certainly looks bright in 2019 and beyond. The defensive back was one of the players new head coach Ryan Day mentioned as having made the biggest strides this spring. If Wade put together the types of performances he did in 2018 when the defense was largely a mess, imagine what he’ll be able to do under the direction of new co-defensive coordinator and secondary coach Jeff Hafley. Expect to hear Shaun Wade’s being called early and often in 2019 when it comes to making plays in the secondary.

Wide receiver L’Christian “Blue” Smith announced in March he was transferring out of the Ohio State program, and today Smith announced he would be continuing his college football career at Cincinnati. Smith joins walk-on Garyn Prater as the second Ohio State wide receiver to transfer to former Ohio State assistant Luke Fickell’s Cincinnati program this offseason.

Smith came to Ohio State from Dayton in the 2018 recruiting class as a four-star recruit, but was only on the field for five offensive snaps in the three games he appeared in for Ohio State during his freshman year. With the Buckeyes having amassed young talent at wide receiver like Chris Olave, Garrett Wilson, and Jaylen Harris, Smith decided it would be best to continue his career elsewhere.

Barring Smith receiving a waiver from the NCAA to allow him to play for the Bearcats immediately, the wide receiver will have to sit out the 2019 season. Once Smith is able to play for Cincinnati in 2020, he will have three years of eligibility remaining. With Smith not only growing up in Dayton, but deciding to continue his career at Cincinnati with Luke Fickell, we wish nothing but the best in the future for the talented wide receiver.

“I feel like it matters any time you step on the field you should do everything that’s expected of you to the best of your ability. That’s how I was raised, that’s how I view the game and I feel like that’s how you respect the game, just go as hard as you can. I’m the type of guy who’s willing to do whatever for the team.”

Former Ohio State wide receiver Terry McLaurin via Patrick Murphy, Bucknuts

Just a few weeks ago, Ohio State wide receiver Terry McLaurin found out where he is going to be play professional football for at least the first few years of his career. Even though McLaurin is now a member of the Washington Redskins, the wide receiver is bringing the same approach to Washington as he did to Ohio State.

If McLaurin’s career in Washington turns out to be anything like his career at Ohio State, the Redskins will have gotten themselves a steal in the third round of the NFL Draft. McLaurin started out his career in Columbus on special teams, earning the trust of the coaching staff before seeing more reps at wide receiver. By the time his career at Ohio State was over, not only did McLaurin haul in 75 passes for over 1,200 yards and 19 touchdowns, but his work on with the special teams unit was highly respected.

Familiarity might allow for McLaurin to rise up the ranks in Washington even faster since Dwayne Haskins is the quarterback of the future for the Redskins. McLaurin caught 35 passes for 701 yards and 11 touchdowns from Haskins in 2018, the lone season in which Haskins was the starter at Ohio State. The relationship between the two has already shown, as they connected a number of times in Washington’s minicamp.

Even if McLaurin isn’t slated for a lot of time at wide receiver with Washington in 2019, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him star on special teams for the Redskins in his rookie season. With his speed and knowledge of what is expected when it comes to special teams, McLaurin will be a valuable piece for Washington. While he might start with a smaller role for the Redskins, there is no doubt that McLaurin will put in the work to elevate himself to an even bigger role in the future.

“JJ is one of those guys who, whether it’s because he’s doing so well or what have you, he has a passion to play tennis at this age. You don’t see that every day.”

Ohio State men’s tennis coach Ty Tucker on JJ Wolf via Bill Rabinowitz, Buckeye Extra

Excelling at tennis has never been a problem for Ohio State junior JJ Wolf, but recently his passion for the game has grown. Wolf was part of Ohio State’s 2017 recruiting class, where he was the No. 3 ranked player. While Wolf was able to hold his own during his first two years in Columbus, his game has really taken off this season with an increase in passion for the game.

Ohio State enters today’s NCAA Tournament quarterfinal matchup against North Carolina as the top-ranked team in the country. Wolf has been a huge reason for Ohio State’s success this year, posting a 31-1 record. After spending most of the season as the top-ranked player in the country, Wolf’s only loss of the season in the Big Ten tournament semifinal against Michigan saw him fall a spot in the rankings.

The loss in the Big Ten tournament semifinal adds some extra motivation for Wolf the rest of the season, but he could also be trying to play his best tennis in the NCAA Tournament since it could be his final shot at a national title. Even though Wolf is only a junior, he can turn pro after this season. Wolf has already dipped his toe in the water against the professionals, as he not only won a qualifying match at the ATP Masters 1000 tournament in Cincinnati in August, but he defeated former teammate Mikael Torpegaard in the Columbus Challenger in January. Wolf is ranked 271st in the ATP rankings.

Another reason for motivation in the NCAA Tournament for Wolf and the Buckeyes is trying to bring head coach Ty Tucker his first NCAA men’s team championship. Tucker became Ohio State’s men’s tennis coach in 1999, but has failed to win a team title during his time in Columbus. Last year Tucker and Ohio State came close, falling to Wake Forest in the final. The winner of today’s matchup between the Buckeyes and Tar Heels will go on to face the winner of the matchup between Virginia and Wake Forest in the semifinals on Saturday.