Football Positionless Shaun Wade provides depth across secondary

Ohio State then-redshirt freshman cornerback Shaun Wade (24) runs on the field during the game against Rutgers on Sept. 8. Credit: Amal Saeed | Assistant Photo EditorAthletes that prove capable at two positions provide great depth to teams by being able to relieve multiple teammates and keeping an extra starting-caliber player on the field.Shaun Wade is capable at three.“I think you’ll see Shaun inside. I think you’ll see Shaun outside,” co-defensive coordinator Jeff Hafley said. “Depends, who’s their slot? Who’s more suited to cover the slot? Who’s more suited to cover the big receiver on the outside?”Not even the redshirt sophomore defensive back himself can define his position.“I can’t tell you,” Wade said. “Wherever they need me at, for real.”Cornerback and nickelback are Wade’s primary two roles, in which he intercepted three passes and broke up seven more in 2018, leading the team in both categories despite not starting the first two games.Junior Jeffrey Okudah and redshirt senior Damon Arnette are the two likely options at cornerback as returning starters, but Ohio State has rotated three players at the position in past years.Nickel appears to be Wade’s to lose, since he filled the role in the 2018 season. It’s a position that isn’t on the field consistently, however, and won’t be when the Buckeyes are in their base 4-3 defense. He doesn’t have a preference between the two, even with the greater number of routes a nickel must defend.“Corner and nickel is the same thing, just at nickel they’ve got a two-way go,” Wade said. “I feel like corner is easier.”Wade’s experience at safety could also serve the team well while it searches for the right man to play alongside senior Jordan Fuller at the position, even if he said that he hasn’t been practicing at deep safety.When then-sophomore Isaiah Pryor and then-redshirt sophomore Jahsen Wint started struggling in the spot in 2018, Wade took up the mantle for stints against TCU and a handful of Big Ten opponents, until junior Brendon White claimed the role with a 13-tackle performance against Nebraska.Wade slid back to nickel and delivered two crucial big hits against No. 4 Michigan.White said he’ll play bullet exclusively in 2018, leaving Pryor and sophomore Josh Proctor to contend at the second safety position.Another factor that will decide Wade’s position is the package the defense runs. Ohio State brings a variety of defensive alignments to the table, from the base 4-3 to its use of the bullet to adding an extra defensive back in the nickel to even further extremes.“It’s all plug-and-play,” Hafley said. “You might see seven DBs on the field one day. The linebacker guys might not be happy, but what if they’ve got five wide outs on the field? We better get some DBs on the field. So yeah, we have those packages.”Unable to state how many packages he will factor into, Wade said he hopes to play less against an offense like Michigan State’s, where linebackers match up better against larger personnel. Against a team like Michigan, he hopes to play more.“Michigan State, they probably have two tight ends,” Wade said. “Michigan, I heard they run the spread this year, so we’re probably gonna have more corners that game.”However he’s used on the field, Wade is an important depth piece in the Ohio State defense.

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