Win or lose, every week there are a handful of Ohio State players who stood out above the rest.
Following the tradition of the helmet stickers that dates back to the days of Woody Hayes, Lettermen Row shares out our version of the award every Sunday morning for the best performers on offense, defense and special teams for the Buckeyes.
PISCATAWAY, N.J. — Shaun Wade just continues to impress for Ohio State.
Before the sparse, late-arriving crowd found their seats Saturday afternoon in SHI Stadium, Wade had already made an instant impact for the Buckeyes. He intercepted Rutgers quarterback Johnny Langan on the second play from scrimmage to set up Ohio State’s opening touchdown drive — and he was far from done.
Wade had 59 minutes remaining to make another huge play, but he only waited a couple minutes and two plays. On the second play of the second Rutgers drive of the game, Wade forced a fumble, which the Buckeyes recovered and found the end zone for a two-score lead just three plays later. He didn’t have an opportunity for too many more plays, because the Buckeyes routed Rutgers 56-21.
Wade has become an incredible asset for Jeff Hafley’s secondary and the Ohio State defense as a whole. Regular outside cornerback Damon Arnette was held out for the entire game, so Wade, who normally plays inside corner, had to slide outside and play in place of Arnette rather than beside him.
“I practiced it this week, so it wasn’t a big adjustment,” Wade said.
He shouldn’t have to worry about playing outside next week when Arnette will rejoin the Silver Bullets defense. But Wade proved to anyone who thinks he may not be able to play outside corner what he can do — including any NFL scouts who might have been watching.
The good news for Wade was easy to see. When he was on the field, he was making huge plays and creating turnovers early and often. It’s been a long time coming for Wade, who hadn’t created a turnover since early September against Cincinnati when he forced a fumble in that blowout win. Wade stayed patient and didn’t press, and the patience was rewarded with the two turnovers in such quick succession.
“God gifted me that ability, so I’m just happy about that,” he said. “My mindset is: ‘All right, I did that. Lets do some more.'”
Wade worked quickly in creating his two turnovers against Rutgers, but he wasn’t alone. Lettermen Row has a few more honors to hand out for Ohio State players who impressed in the lackluster win at Rutgers.
WR Binjimen Victor
Binjimen Victor isn’t putting up huge numbers this season. He only has 27 catches for 459 yards. But his six touchdown grabs are what make Victor such a threat for the Ohio State offense. Victor added two scores Saturday in the rout, helping improve the Heisman Trophy stock of Justin Fields. Victor’s first touchdown catch of the night was an 11-yard grab, and it wasn’t as easy as his second, when he was wide open for a 24-yard touchdown just a minute before the half. He is one of Fields’ most reliable receivers, and as the offense expands against Penn State and Michigan, Victor will be a big part of it all.
DB Shaun Wade
The Buckeyes defense started quickly after Rutgers received the ball to start the game. On the second play from scrimmage, Rutgers quarterback Johnny Langan tested Shaun Wade on a deep ball. Wade knocked it away, tipped it to himself and picked the ball off, setting the Buckeyes up with good field position on the way to their first touchdown. On the next Rutgers possession, Wade forced a fumble on the second play of the drive, setting up another Ohio State touchdown. That’s two turnovers forced by Wade in the first four plays of the game. It was a good start for the defense, even though it had a lackluster first half. Wade and the first-string defense didn’t play much in the second half, but Wade still was able to end the game with an impressive stat line.
DB Tyreke Johnson
Ohio State scored eight touchdowns, so there were quite a few opportunities for the guys on the kickoff team to have an impact on the game. Johnson was in on two of the tackles on the kickoff unit. When Rutgers didn’t call for fair catches, Johnson was at or near the play on each of the kickoffs. He might not be able to crack the regular rotation at cornerback for the Ohio State defense. But as the regular season winds down, Johnson can continue to help the Buckeyes by making plays on special teams, an often unsung job.