National signing day has come and gone, which means we can begin to fully evaluate the recruiting haul each team collected. This week on the Big Ten blog, we’re looking at which player or position group has the potential to make an instant impact for each conference team in 2017.
Up next: Ohio State
Player: Cornerback Shaun Wade
The Buckeyes are once again in need of an overnight reload in the secondary after losing three more starters early to the NFL draft. But signing one of the most decorated classes of defensive backs in recent history should certainly help streamline that process, and it could put the nation’s top-ranked cornerback in position to potentially make an impact right away.
Wade offered his initial pledge to the Buckeyes on the day of the national championship game two years ago, and despite overtures from seemingly every program in the country, he stuck to his word. It certainly helped that during those two seasons while he was still in high school that Ohio State was building itself into a professional assembly line for defensive backs, first with the wave of Eli Apple, Vonn Bell and Tyvis Powell and then this past season with Gareon Conley, Marshon Lattimore and Malik Hooker.
“There’s a plan here that you just have to follow,” Wade said on signing day. “I knew I could go to the league here, and [cornerbacks coach Kerry] Coombs is going to work my tail off and push me to be the best person I can be before I get to the league.
“I’m just ready to start working.”
It’s only the beginning for Wade, and the Buckeyes have more potential starters already on hand, starting with the experienced Denzel Ward. And even among the newest signees, the competition will be fierce, with Kendall Sheffield coming in as the top-ranked junior-college cornerback and Amir Riep and Marcus Williamson also pushing for action as naturals at the position.
But Wade is coming in with a five-star pedigree and also enrolled in time to take part in spring practice, making him an early favorite to provide a boost for the Buckeyes right away.