Remembering Dwayne Haskins through ‘forever’ Ohio State Buckeyes legacy
Dwayne Haskins’ tragic death is tough to process.
Haskins, 24, reportedly was hit by a dump truck early Saturday morning in South Florida. He had been training with Pittsburgh Steelers teammates ahead of his fourth NFL season.
Haskins made the rise to NFL first-round pick in 2018, when he passed for 4,831 yards, 50 TDs and eight interceptions at Ohio State. That’s the place where Haskins might be remembered most.
It’s in that light where you could process what Haskins meant to his Ohio State teammates, coaches and community, even in those moments that seem fleeting now.
It’s impossible to start an Ohio State career under more pressure. Haskins replaced an injured J.T. Barrett with the Buckeyes trailing 20-14 at Michigan on Nov. 25, 2017. Haskins’ first place was a gotta-have-it third-and-1 in the Big House. A simple handoff to JK Dobbins got that first down. Haskins hit 6 of 7 passes for 94 yards against a stunned Wolverines’ defense.
That led to 17 unanswered points. In the press conference after, and through his Ohio State career, Haskins handled the praise with class.
“After that first down, I was able to say, ‘All right, we can get this rolling and start the drive,” Haskins said. “After that play, it was, ‘Let’s keep this moving, let’s go score the ball, and it piled it on.”
That didn’t stop in 2018. Haskins was the favorite to win the starting job, and he beat out Joe Burrow and Tate Martell. Haskins wowed at the spring game with his arm strength. Even in that spotlight, Haskins took the time to sign autographs for the fans lingering outside Ohio Stadium.
The 2018 season was anything but stable. Urban Meyer was suspended for the first three games, and Ryan Day was the interim coach. The one sure thing in Columbus that season was Haskins. He set Big Ten passing records and closed the regular season with 396 yards and six TDs in a 62-39 victory that derailed another Michigan season.
Those numbers were eye-popping, and they’ve set the standard for Ohio State quarterbacks Justin Fields, C.J. Stroud and whoever comes next. Haskins finished third in the Heisman voting, and he helped ease the transition from Meyer’s retirement to Day’s tenure with a Rose Bowl victory against Washington.
Those are the accomplishments that form a prizm an athlete is viewed through and judged by. Haskins was more than in Columbus. Football was secondary to the person, another young athlete with enormous talent who took the time to give back to the next generation.
Fast forward to April 18, 2019. Haskins held a camp for youth football players at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center on the same day Tiger Woods won his fifth Masters tournament. Not that Haskins had to compete for attention with the parents and players in attendance.
He was the main attraction. The 6-foot-4, 230-pounder towered over almost everyone. He played 7-on-7 with all age groups and occasionally showed off that long arm to an unsuspecting camper.
He was continuing the dream that started when he was a child. Ohio State was always where he wanted to be. Of course, he was asked to talk about his pending NFL future, but his thoughts, like any young person at the time, drifted back to the good times in college.
“I’m going to college here.”
Rest in peace, Dwayne Haskins 🙏 pic.twitter.com/OyBfIpLINE
— Timeless Sports (@timelesssports_) April 9, 2022
During his time with the Buckeyes, Haskins was always generous with his time to the media and even more confident in his abilities as a quarterback. It showed, and it was not just part of the business-end process. You could see a young star having fun.
“You will forever have a home here as a ball player coming to this university,” Haskins said at the camp. “To be able to go to the spring game and share that with my former teammates and people I look up to in the NFL, which now I’m a part of, is an unbelievable experience.”
In that moment, the NFL was less important than the impact he made at Ohio State. Haskins had made it, and he was heading into his fourth season with Pittsburgh. He might have had another chance to start at some point, a detail that seems insignificant now in the wake of Saturday’s tragic news. He was just a player grinding with his teammates to get better ahead of the 2022 season. There was supposed to be more time for that.
That is where Haskins’ tragic death hits the most. The outpouring of support from those teammates and coaches at all levels on social media. Meyer, who recruited Haskins, was among those with emotional tributes, ones that are sure to continue at the Ohio State spring game on April 16.
Heartbroken to hear of the loss of Dwayne Haskins Jr. My thoughts and prayers go out to his incredible family. One of the greatest QB’s in Ohio State history, but an even better son, teammate, and friend. God Bless!! pic.twitter.com/lM9Z8LzMhe
— Urban Meyer (@CoachUrbanMeyer) April 9, 2022
That is a thoughtful image that starts the process of remembering a life cut short far too soon, and it will take more time than most places. There is, forgive the pun, a scarlet-and-gray lining.
The legacy will endure forever in Columbus.