Appreciating Dwayne Haskins before it’s too late

(AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

In 2008, 11-year-old Dwayne Haskins had a dream while in Ohio State’s Woody Hayes Athletic Center, the Buckeyes’ practice facility. It was to don the scarlet and gray and be the starting quarterback for the Buckeyes once he was older.

Little did we all know, he would not only fulfill that dream but a decade after making that statement, he would fulfill his childhood dream in a way that many would have never expected.

He was different. Not in a bad way, but in his own way. Whether it was at Florida or with the Ohio State Buckeyes, quarterbacks in the Urban Meyer Era weren’t like Haskins. They were run first-, pass second-types, not the other way around. The read option was used often, especially during Meyer’s first six years in Columbus. Whether it was Braxton Miller or J.T. Barrett, the Meyer-led offense was a run-first one. We got a glimpse of what a pass-first offense could potentially look like during that unique three-game stretch when Cardale Jones unexpectedly led Ohio State to a national championship in the inaugural College Football Playoff in 2015, but that was an outlier simply because no one saw it coming, especially with Barrett not able to give it a go.

No one really knew what to expect in 2018. Many, especially in Buckeye Nation, knew how talented Haskins is and could be, but projecting how he would perform was tough, to say the least. Not only because it was his first year as a full-time starter, but simply due to it being a completely different offense, unlike one that had been seen since Meyer arrived in Columbus in 2012. We got a glimpse of Haskins’ talent when he stepped in for Barrett during the Buckeyes’ win over Michigan in Ann Arbor in 2017, but given the sample size, it was still tough to project the type of quarterback the redshirt sophomore could be, especially throughout an entire season and with all the pressure on him, while teams also prepared to face him week in and week out as well.

To say that he exceeded expectations would be quite an understatement. In a season full of high expectations as a team but filled with plenty of unknowns of what to expect from the most important position on a football field, Haskins threw for 4,580 yards and 47 touchdowns. He completed 70.2 percent of his passes while also adding 122 yards and four touchdowns on the ground as well. Not known for his running ability, the 6-foot-3, 220-pound gunslinger was able to open up the offense with his scrambling ability when he needed it. When he didn’t he had the size, arm strength, and throwing ability to launch the ball wherever it needed to go on the field.

Let’s take a look at some of the individual records that Haskins now holds after just one season as a full-time starter:

  • Big Ten record for most passing yards in a single season.
  • Big Ten record for most passing touchdowns in a single season.1
  • Big Ten record for most total touchdowns in a single season.
  • The school record for passing completions, attempts, touchdowns, yards, completion percentage, and total offense in a single season.

He seemed to make a name for himself every Saturday this season. In Ohio State’s storied history, they had just one quarterback throw for more than 400 yards in a single game prior to this season. Haskins eclipsed the 400-yard mark five times in 2018 alone, including in each of the last three games. He threw for a school-record 499 yards against Northwestern to lead the Buckeyes to a Big Ten championship.

via Eleven Warriors

Haskins may not have won the Heisman Trophy, but being able to attend the ceremony in New York City as one of three finalists is quite a special feat nonetheless. It was yet another accomplishment that Haskins has achieved this season, a season that has been filled with plenty of awards and record-breaking performances.

He was the first Buckeye to do so since Troy Smith took home the award in 2006. Not only was he a finalist, but the gunslinger was given The Chicago Tribune Silver Football, which is given to the Big Ten’s best player, and was also named the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year, Big Ten Quarterback of the Year, and was named the Big Ten Player of the Week a record six times.

Tuesday night’s Rose Bowl will not only be Meyer’s last game leading the Buckeyes, but it could very well be Haskins’ last game too. Expected to be a first-round pick and the favorite to be QB1 in the upcoming 2019 NFL Draft, there’s a good chance that the redshirt sophomore could forego his final two years of eligibility and declare for the draft. If that’s true, he will leave behind quite a legacy even if only started one full season, one that will be tough to top. Even if he didn’t lead his team to the Playoff or a national championship like he and the Buckeyes wanted, Haskins’ dominance will never be forgotten.

via Eleven Warriors

With all this said, Buckeye Nation quite possibly has just one game left to watch Haskins don the scarlet and gray. Enjoy his greatness. He’s different from many of the quarterbacks that suited up for Ohio State recently, but he’s a special kid and a special quarterback. For that, Ohio State needs to appreciate what Haskins did during his first (and possibly only) season as the full-time starter. One of the coolest parts about all of this is just how humble Haskins has been throughout the season. He never was too outspoken or wanted to make it known just how dominant he was. The quarterback let his play do the talking, which makes him so special.

Many in the national media may not have believed that Haskins deserved the Heisman Trophy, but he at least deserves to be considered one of the best quarterbacks to ever walk through the Woody Hayes Athletic Center. He at least deserves that.

  1. His 47 touchdown passes are seven more than the second most. []