Wade originally announced his decision to leave the team as uncertainty loomed over the Big Ten season. Once the Big Ten on Wednesday decided to play a fall season beginning in October, Wade rethought his decision and is now coming back.
“Really, back in January, I didn’t go to the draft and my goal was to come back, be a captain, get my degree,” Wade said Thursday on SportsCenter. “And they didn’t cancel football. Now it’s back. So since it’s back, we’ve got a chance to win a national championship. That’s been my goal since day one.
“So that’s what we’re striving for. That’s what we’re gonna strive for when we get back in October.”
— Ohio State Football (@OhioStateFB) September 17, 2020
Wade on Wednesday told ESPN’s Outside The Lines that he hired an agent when he opted out after graduating in July, but he never signed any paperwork with the agency. Defining that relationship will be important because, according to NCAA rules, any player who hires an agent is deemed ineligible.
If the NCAA finds he is ineligible because of the relationship with his agent, Wade can try to go through the student-athlete reinstatement process to regain eligibility and play. If the relationship was not one that would enact this rule, Wade will be eligible immediately.
Wade could have left Ohio State after last season, as he was projected as an early-round NFL draft pick, but he returned for his senior season. The preseason All-American was listed as the No. 7 prospect on the Big Board by ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. earlier this month.
His announcement to return might come as a surprise to some in Columbus, Ohio, as he did not tell Buckeyes coach Ryan Day that he was returning prior to his SportsCenter appearance. Wade said he did tell defensive backs coach Kerry Coombs and teammate Wyatt Davis, who also opted out and then opted back in.
“[Davis’] reaction, as soon as he found out, Wyatt was happy,” Wade said. “We were talking, and I just told him, ‘I’m gonna come back, too.’ Because at the end of the day, we both came back for a reason — that’s to get that natty. We had a sour taste last year with Clemson. But this year, we’ve got a great team, great leadership on this team.”
Wade was ejected on a controversial targeting call in last season’s playoff semifinal against Clemson. He said that ejection and the outcome of that game factored into his decision to come back.
“I can’t go out like that, on that last targeting play,” Wade said. “I gotta come back and do great things for the Buckeye Nation and just for my teammates. So, really looking forward to it. Can’t wait until Oct. 23rd or 24th, whenever we play.
“I’m just looking forward to it; I’m very, very excited.”