With the Ohio State Buckeyes set to kick off their 2018 football season in 12 days, WFNY will have a bit of a preview for the scarlet and gray before they begin their season this fall. Although the Buckeyes lost plenty of talent either due to graduation or the NFL Draft, it doesn’t mean that they will have to rebuild, they will instead reload, much like they have in the past. In fact, the word rebuild most likely doesn’t even exist in dictionaries across Columbus. You could argue that this year’s team is somehow better than last year’s in some ways. It truly shows just how deep this roster is, thanks to the recruiting efforts by the coaching staff, development of the players, and just how talented these kids are while they try and mesh together to potentially win a national championship at season’s end.
To kick things off, we talk about the man who will start at football’s most important position and will have the keys to Ohio State’s new-look offense this fall.
In college basketball, the term “one-and-done” is well known. Due to high school players no longer being able to go straight to the NBA after graduation,1 highly-touted recruits tend to attend college for one year and then declare for the NBA Draft, meaning that they are a one-and-done player in college basketball.
That term is rarely used in college football due to players needing to spend at least three years in college before declaring for the NFL Draft. But with Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins Jr., it’s a term they may be brought up quite often throughout this season. If he plays well, he could very easily be a one-and-done starting quarterback for the Buckeyes this fall before potentially deciding to declare for the 2019 NFL Draft.
He played sparingly in 2017 while backing up J.T. Barrett, but when he did play, he showcased his potential. As a redshirt freshman, he completed 40-of-57 passes for 565 yards, four touchdowns, and one interception. He also added 86 yards on the ground on 24 rush attempts as well.
Although much of that came when he was put in games that were already out of hand, he shined the most on the brightest stage, at least in the regular season. When Barrett aggravated a knee injury midway through the third quarter at Michigan, Haskins was thrown into the game. No pressure, right?
You wouldn’t have known that it was the first time he had played significant time in a game that actually mattered. Haskins was just 3-for-8 for 30 yards and a touchdown while also adding three carries for 24 yards on the ground, but he shined brightest when it mattered the most. Entering the game with his team trailing 20-14, he not only needed to lead the offense but had to score touchdowns as well. He did just that, helping the Buckeyes take home yet another win over their biggest rival, 31-20.
Unlike other quarterbacks in recent years such as Barrett and Braxton Miller, Haskins is more of a let-it-fly guy than an option-run quarterback. That type of gunslinger will most likely be what works best for Ohio State this fall, especially with all the talent around Haskins. You’ll see a lot more passes and a lot less run options this year than you have for quite some time while watching the Buckeyes. Keep in mind, the Buckeyes return their top two running backs2 and top six receivers,3 all while adding some very talented freshmen to the fold as well.
A let-it-fly-type of offense, while Ohio State leans on their running backs to run the ball and their experience at wide receiver, will be an unfamiliar look for Buckeye Nation, but it doesn’t mean it won’t be entertaining. If the game in Ann Arbor proved anything, it’s that the offense will be really, really fun this fall, with Haskins leading the way.
He may not have a start under his belt yet, but Haskins has already put college football on notice. After winning the starting quarterback battle over Joe Burrow,4 the redshirt sophomore not only has the keys to the Buckeyes’ offense, but seems to be one of the frontrunners to win the Heisman Trophy at season’s end as well. With 11-to-1 odds on Bovada, Haskins has the fourth-best odds to take home college football’s most prestigious award, trailing only Stanford running back Bryce Love (7-to-1), Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (15-to-2), and Wisconsin running back Johnathan Taylor (9-to-1).
At 6-foot-3, 220 pounds, the gunslinger has the type of frame of an ideal quarterback in the NFL, especially if he can add just a few more pounds, which is easy to do when needed. Add in his arm strength and capability to throw the ball anywhere asked of him, and his potential continues to rise. Now he just has to prove that he has the overall skill over the course of an entire season while. With a loaded offense, he has all the weapons at his disposal to do just that.
Set to start at the most important position in football, expectations are quite high even though it will be the first time Haskins will start as a Buckeye. Following in the same footsteps as names such as J.T. Barrett, Braxton Miller, Cardale Jones, Troy Smith, and Terrelle Pryor, Haskins is set to follow quite a list of quarterbacks who have led Ohio State over the past decade or so. There may just be one difference between those five quarterbacks and Haskins: Not only may he be one-and-done, but he has the potential, size, and athleticism to be a legitimate quarterback in the NFL. Now, we just have to wait and see if that potential turns into reality, not only this fall but in the future as well.
Head coach Urban Meyer has put a bunch of players into the NFL that have made plenty of noise at every position (even as coaches), but his legacy of having NFL quarterbacks has been lacking, especially in recent memory. Haskins has a chance to break that mold.
If things go right, Haskins will be a one-and-done quarterback after leading Ohio State to a Big Ten title and maybe even a national championship this fall. Although it would be a gut punch to lose such a talented quarterback after just one season, if he is, in fact, one-and-done, that means that he led the Buckeyes to something special at season’s end. We can worry about 2019 when it gets here, but let’s focus on 2018 now, a year that could see Haskins have an extraordinary season if he fulfills his potential.