It didn't take long for one Big Ten program to get some good news about its roster following Wednesday's announcement that the league will stage a fall football season after all. Penn State tight end Pat Freiermuth, a potential first-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, clarified on Big Ten Network that he plans to play for Penn State this season after reports circulated that he planned to opt out of the season.
Now attention is on the league's other stars who have opted out, including two Ohio State starters in offensive lineman Wyatt Davis and cornerback Shaun Wade. Both players are considered potential first-round picks in the 2021 draft, and Davis indicated Wednesday that "I want to play this season for Ohio State and I am working now to make that a reality."
Davis' remarks came after Ohio State coach Ryan Day left the door open on Wednesday for Davis and Wade to return to the Buckeyes. Neither have signed with agents, according to Sports Illustrated's Albert Breer.
"They both shared with me they want to play football, they want to be part of this team, they want to play with their teammates," Day said. "Now the opportunity is here. In terms of the details of all that, we'll figure that all out over the next couple of days."
Wade told ESPN Wednesday that "I haven't decided" about oping back in after he announced on Monday that he planned to opt out and prepare for the NFL Draft. His decision to opt out came as uncertainty persisted over whether the Big Ten would resurrect its season in time for league members to have a shot at making the College Football Playoff.
"In communication with both of those guys and their families, they wanted to play," Day said. "At the time, the information that they had, we weren't playing the season. Now that's changed. I think this is a very, very unique time in our country's history and certainly in college football. So if they want to play, I believe one-thousand percent they should be allowed the opportunity to play. Now this all just came out fast, and it's happening and moving quickly. So we'll kind of let them digest and see in the conversations they're having with their families what they want to do. Then we'll go from there."
Davis and Wade aren't the only Big Ten stars who could theoretically opt back in to the season. Purdue coach Jeff Brohm said Wednesday he plans to look into talking with star receiver Rondale Moore, who opted out of the season in early August before the Big Ten's announcement that it planned to cancel the fall season.
There is a growing precedent of college football players opting back into the season after initially opting out. LSU defensive lineman Neil Farrell confirmed Monday that he does plan to play for the Tigers this season after he opted out in August. Even players who have signed with agents can go through the student-athlete reinstatement process to try and regain their eligibility, according to ESPN's Tom VanHaaren.
While Penn State received good news about Freiermuth on Wednesday, Franklin didn't express much optimism about getting Micah Parsons to do the same. The likely first-round pick announced in early August that he planned to skip his junior season to prepare for the draft.
"I'll reach out and have some fun with Micah," Franklin said. "The thing I think has been great about our guys and our process is Micah was very communicative the whole time. We had a lot of conversations about it with Micah and his family and what he wanted to do and we were unbelievably supportive."
Below is the complete list of players from Big Ten programs that have announced a decision to opt out.
Big Ten players who have opted out (21)
- Ra'Von Bonner, RB, Illinois
- Jalen Alexander, DL, Marland
- Austin Fontaine, OL, Maryland
- Johnny Jordan, OL, Maryland
- Josh Jackson, QB, Maryland
- Vincent Flythe, DB, Maryland
- TJ Kautai, LB, Maryland
- Jalen Mayfield, OL, Michigan
- Christian Turner, RB, Michigan
- Ambry Thomas, DB, Michigan
- Jordan Reid, OL, Michigan State
- Marcel Lewis, LB, Michigan State
- Justin Stevens, OL, Michigan State
- Jacub Panasiuk, DE, Michigan State
- Rashod Bateman, WR, Minnesota
- Rashawn Slater, OT, Northwestern
- Shaun Wade, DB, Ohio State
- Wyatt Davis, OL, Ohio State
- Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State
- Rondale Moore, WR, Purdue
- Everett Wormley, WR, Rutgers