Smith, Day talk communication with Wyatt Davis, Shaun Wade
If anything illustrates the importance of Wyatt Davis to the Ohio State football team, it would be the fact that the university athletic director stood up to take a call with the redshirt junior offensive lineman mid-press conference following the Big Ten’s announcement Wednesday.
It was only a brief moment that Gene Smith turned away to deal with the call, but it’s safe to assume it will be far from their final interaction in the coming days.
Davis and redshirt junior cornerback Shaun Wade, both preseason AP All-Americans, became the first two Buckeyes to opt out of any potential season and declare for the NFL Draft this past Friday and Monday, respectively, but the timing of the Big Ten’s fall season reinstatement leads many to believe that there’s a chance they could return to the team.
“In communication with both of those guys and their families, they wanted to play,” head coach Ryan Day said in a press conference on Zoom Wednesday. “At the time, the information they had, we weren’t playing a season. Now it’s changed.”
Davis is back home in California and Wade in Florida, and both cited the long waiting process and uncertainty with the Big Ten as reasons that they decided to declare for the draft.
Now though, the Big Ten has provided an answer, and the renewal of the fall season would provide each of them the chance to do what they asked for on social media and through statements over the past month: play football in the fall.
“They’ve both shared with me that they want to play football and they want to be part of this team, they want to play with their teammates, and now the opportunity’s here,” Day said. “In terms of the details of all that, we’ll figure that out in the next couple days.”
Shaun’s father, Randy Wade, was one of the most outspoken proponents among conference parents campaigning for the salvation of the fall season in the Big Ten since the initial postponement.
My wife & I never wanted Shaun 2 come back for 2020 season. Shaun wanted 2 come back. Graduate, Capt, Championship etc. As of today My wife & I wanted Shaun not to declare, Shaun didn't opt out there is no season He declared because of B1G circus & it was the best thing for him.— Randy L Wade💯%🐐 f@❌ℹLy..... (@gslsff) September 15, 2020
Randy Wade wrote on Twitter Tuesday that he didn’t want his son to return for another year after the 2019 season, but said now, he and his wife no longer wanted Shaun to declare for the draft.
Without an official announcement that either has formally hired an agent though, it may be possible they could have a change of heart given the news.
Day said he won’t rush them on a decision, though.
“If they want to play, I believe 1,000 percent they should be allowed the opportunity to play. Now, this all just came out fast, it’s happening and moving quickly, so we’ll let them digest and see in the conversations they’re having with their families what they want to do, and then we’ll go from there,” Day said.
Davis’s call to Smith Wednesday was not the first time the pair had spoken in recent weeks.
“I had a lot of conversations with Wyatt over time, as did my wife, and so who knows what the big fella’s thinking about out there on the west coast,” Smith said. “I texted him and told him, ‘Don’t get burnt up, come home. There’s a lot of fires out there.’ So who knows what he’ll do. I had an opportunity to leave a message for Shaun this morning.”
It’s no unique situation the Buckeyes are in, with other top-tier Big Ten talents like Micah Parsons and Rashod Bateman having already opted out of the season for other teams, but with Davis and Wade seeming to have been bought into the idea of playing until the last few days, Ohio State may have a better shot at retaining one, or both of them.
UPDATE (2:01 p.m.):
Shaun Wade and his father, Randy, appeared on SportsCenter Wednesday, and Shaun said he has not thought about a final decision yet. He said he has an agent, but has not signed anything yet.