Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer was in a New Jersey hotel room when he received an unpleasant phone call.
Meyer, one of college football’s best recruiters, received word he was losing a commit at the sport's most important position. The only quarterback previously pledged to the Buckeyes in the 2016 class, Tristen Wallace, decided he no longer wanted to play that spot.
“My mouth went dry,” Meyer said on National Signing Day. “I just said, ‘What?’”
Wallace’s decision to switch from quarterback to wide receiver and then eventually flip from Ohio State to Oregon took place in mid-December. Meyer and Co. did not have much time to find a replacement as signing day was only a few weeks away. The staff was left scrambling.
“We started searching the ones that were not committed,” Meyer said, “and to be quite honest, it wasn’t a very — what’s the word I am looking for? — very attractive pool of players for our expectation at quarterback.”
It is almost essential to have at least one quarterback commit in every single recruiting class so Ohio State had to figure something out.
Enter Dwayne Haskins. Or re-enter, rather.
Haskins was a key target for the Buckeyes in 2016 for a long time, but the two parties decided to go in different directions and Haskins wound up committing to his home state school, Maryland.
That is, until Meyer called again.
“We had a great relationship prior to; he’s been here several times,” Meyer said. “I knew he was a big Ohio State fan growing up and the relationship instantly was right exactly where it was when we went our separate ways.”
The rest, as they say, is history.
Haskins committed to Ohio State on Jan. 18 and signed with the Buckeyes a few weeks later on National Signing Day.
“It’s been a dream of mine to play for Ohio State since I was 8 years old,” Haskins tweeted that day. “In my heart I’m a Buckeye.”
Meyer got his quarterback, and he’s a good one, too.
“He’s an impact recruit,” Meyer said of Haskins.
Hailing from Potomac, Maryland, Haskins is a four-star prospect and the nation’s No. 7-rated pro-style quarterback, according to 247Sports’ composite rankings. He is listed by Ohio State at 6-foot-3 and 204 pounds and has a very advanced skill set.
“I anticipate after going — he went through a workout and watching him, watching his film and the way he’s been trained — that he will compete for playing time as a true freshman,” Meyer said.
Haskins will not beat out J.T. Barrett to be Ohio State’s starting quarterback, of course, but Meyer fully believes he will be able to compete to be Barrett’s back up for the 2016 season. Redshirt freshman Joey Burrow is the Buckeyes’ No. 2 option right now while redshirt sophomore Stephen Collier is currently third on the depth chart. Haskins has an opportunity to battle for that No. 2 spot when he arrives in Columbus in June.
It won’t be easy — Ohio State’s staff is quite high on Burrow — but Haskins is further along than the average incoming freshman quarterback. That could be a big advantage in making the backup battle a little closer.
“The fundamentals that Dwayne Haskins possesses right now is as good as I’ve ever seen in a young quarterback,” Meyer said.
The signing of Haskins makes fall camp that much more interesting even if it is still six months away.