Ohio State CB Shaun Wade, potential top-10 pick in 2021, opts out of senior season

Lawrence shaken up after big hit, Wade ejected for targeting (1:40)

Shaun Wade is ejected for targeting after hitting Trevor Lawrence above the shoulders. (1:40)

Ohio State cornerback Shaun Wade announced Monday that he is opting out of his senior season to prepare for the NFL draft.

With the uncertainty of when a Big Ten season will be played, Wade has decided to forgo his remaining year of eligibility and move on to the next level.

"I came back to get my degree and to play another season and win a national championship," Wade said. "But when the Big Ten canceled, I was focused on still playing, but I felt like they were holding off for so long I thought it was the best decision for me to declare for the draft and just go on with preparing and getting ready for the draft."

A projected starter for the Buckeyes and a preseason All-American, Wade was listed as the No. 7 prospect on the Big Board of ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. earlier this month. He had been projected as an early-round pick in the 2020 NFL draft but decided to return to Ohio State for one more season.

Part of his decision to return was to graduate and get his degree, which he accomplished in July. Wade told reporters in early August that he did not regret his decision to return to Ohio State and, at the time, did not have any thoughts of opting out.

As time went on, however, that changed, and in early September, Wade decided it was time to move on.

"When they ended up canceling the season, I was in contact with [defensive coordinator] Coach [Kerry] Coombs, Coach [Ryan] Day and Gene Smith, our AD, every day about the season. Then every time they said they were going to vote, the Big Ten was pushing everything back," Wade said. "I was being patient, but it was a time-consuming thing and time doesn't wait on no man, so I felt it was the right decision. We talked every day about what was going on behind the scenes, but time was ticking."

The final sign for Wade was when he saw a green cricket outside his front door. The cricket was there when he left to work out in early September and was still there when he returned from his workout and the following day.

"I looked up what a green cricket means and it's kind of about moving on with your life, so I think that was a sign from God that it was time for me to move on," Wade said.

Wade's father, Randy, has been vocal, including organizing a protest at conference headquarters, among the group of parents trying to get the Big Ten to reverse its decision to postpone the season. He understands that the juxtaposition of his father's protest and his decision to opt out might look odd, but he said the protests were about more than just Wade himself.

"It was for the Big Ten in general because he understands some kids don't have the same resources they have in college at home. He knows if we don't play football, some kids are going to go down the wrong path," Wade said. "That's just the type of parent my dad is. He wants kids to do better and strive for greatness. If kids play in the fall, it will be a perfect thing for kids.

"I know he's disappointed, but at the end of the day, he has to worry about me, and we have to move on."

The optics of the decision also looked odd considering there is a chance that the Big Ten presidents and chancellors could vote on a starting date for the season as early as this week after meetings over the weekend. Wade said he has waited long enough and isn't looking back on the decision.

"When I talked to [Ohio State coaches about a potential vote] they still had no clarity, there was no clarity with the players, the coaches and the parents," Wade said. "That was another thing. With no clarity, you just don't know what's going to go on, so that was the main decision, that there was no clarity and I'm good either way."

Wade had been named a team captain for the upcoming season, whenever it was scheduled to be played. He is the second Ohio State player to opt out after offensive lineman Wyatt Davis did so three days ago.