COLUMBUS, Ohio – At a program that has produced eight first round NFL Draft choices at defensive back since 2014, it’s hard to do something for the first time. But that’s what Shaun Wade did on Wednesday when he became the first Buckeye to win the Big Ten’s Tatum–Woodson Defensive Back of the Year Award.
Wade, a fourth-year junior from Jacksonville and one of seven captains on this year’s team, is tops among defensive backs on the Buckeyes with 16 tackles. He’s added three pass breakups and has an interception in each of the last two games. His “pick six” against Indiana on Nov. 21 gave Ohio State a 42-21 lead in the third quarter of a game that they it won 42-35. Wade was also a first team All-Big Ten pick by both the coaches and media. He’s a semifinalist for the Jim Thorpe Award, which honors college football’s top defensive back.
After redshirting as a true freshman in 2017, Wade played in all 14 games in 2018 and then became a full-time starter in 2019 at the inside cornerback position and flourished, totaling 26 tackles, four tackles-for-loss, one interception, two forced fumbles and eight pass breakups. In 2020, he moved to the outside cornerback position and was Ohio State’s only returning starter in the secondary, making his the unquestioned leader of the group. Wade’s played in 32 games over the last two seasons with 18 starts.
Joining Wade on the first team All-Big Ten list by the coaches was senior LB Pete Werner. A Butkus Award semifinalist, Werner is Ohio State’s leading tackler with 32 total stops (14) solo to go along with 2.5 tackles for loss, one QB hurry and one forced fumble. He’s had at least three tackles in each game this season with a high of eight at Michigan State two weeks ago.
A pair of defensive linemen – DT Tommy Togiai and DE Zach Harrison – were second team All-Big Ten by the coaches while Baron Browning, Jonathon Cooper and Haskell Garrett made the third team. In all, a total of seven defensive players made either a first, second or third team.
In his first season as a starter, Togiai has 16 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss and 3.0 sacks, all of which came in a 38-25 win at Penn State. Harrison is Ohio State’s team leader with 4.0 tackles for loss while Cooper has 14 tackles and 1.5 sacks. One of the feel-good stories in all of college football, Garrett – a senior from Las Vegas – is enjoying a breakout season in which he’s played in all five games with 12 tackles, 2.0 tackles for loss, one quarterback sack and an interception for a touchdown two weeks ago at Michigan State. Browning is Ohio State’s second-leading tackler (23 stops) to go along with two pass breakups, a fumble recovery and one forced fumble.
With the help of Wade, Werner, Garrett and the rest of the All-Big Ten Buckeyes, Ohio State possesses the nation’s No. 6 rushing defense (95.0 yards/game) and has allowed an average of just 1.8 yards per carry over the last two games.
COURTESY OHIO STATE ATHLETIC COMMUNICATIONS