Not only did Ohio State see Wyatt Davis return to practice yesterday, but the Buckeyes also strengthened their secondary with the return of cornerback Shaun Wade. Davis and Wade both had opted-out of the 2020 campaign when it looked like the Big Ten and Ohio State would be stuck on the sidelines this year.
While the return of Davis is massive to the Ohio State offensive line, Wade coming back to Columbus for one last hurrah is even more important to the national title hopes of the Buckeyes. Both Davis and Wade are not only leaders at their position at OSU, but the two are a couple of the best players in the country.
What makes Wade so important this year is what else the Buckeyes have to offer in the secondary. Ohio State has seen numerous defensive backs taken in the first round of the NFL Draft over the last few decades, and Wade looks like he’ll be the latest to join that group at the 2021 NFL Draft in April.
Wade's worth is so much more than what he gives Ohio State on the field. The defensive back from Jacksonville is helping to shape the future of the Buckeyes secondary. Sevyn Banks, Cam Brown, and Tyreke Johnson are just a few DBs who look primed for the spotlight once Wade takes his talents to the professional level. The more the younger defensive backs can absorb from Wade during his time left in Columbus, the stronger the secondary will be in the future.
It also doesn't hurt that Wade already has some familiarity with co-defensive coordinator and secondary coach Kerry Coombs from Coombs’ time at Ohio State prior to his two-year stint in the NFL with the Tennessee Titans on Mike Vrabel's coaching staff.
Wade knows what Coombs expects out of his players and can be a leader on the field for Coombs. While that isn't going to be much of a difference for Wade from last year, as he always had high expectations for himself and his teammates, last year he was surrounded by Jeff Okudah, Damon Arnette, and Jordan Fuller. This year, Wade will be looked at as the man, and not the man of the future.
Without Wade, the Ohio State secondary would have still been good since the other members of the unit are extremely hungry. Coombs knows how to get the best out of his players, but it would have been a little more of a work-in-progress. Buckeye Nation would have been waiting for the next star of the secondary to step up. With Wade returning, they know who the top dog is going to be in 2020.
We know how last season ended for Wade and the Buckeyes. The suspect targeting call in the first half for his hit on Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence turned the tide in the game and allowed the Tigers to gain some momentum and cut into Ohio State’s lead. Had Wade not been ejected, maybe Ohio State is entering this season as the defending national champion.
There is unfinished business for Shaun Wade and Ohio State. You saw how much they fought for the season when the Big Ten initially announced they wouldn't be playing football this year. Wade and the Buckeyes knew this was their last shot to get revenge on Lawrence and Clemson. If the season plays out like we all are hoping it will, Clemson and Ohio State should be on a crash course for a highly-anticipated rematch in the College Football Playoff.