Dwayne Haskins is currently preparing for his third preseason camp as an Ohio State football player, but he knows this one will be a little different than his first two.
In 2016, Haskins was a true freshman just learning the ropes of what it was like to be an Ohio State football player. In 2017, Haskins competed with Joe Burrow to be Ohio State’s No. 2 quarterback – ultimately winning the job – but knowing that he would be a backup to J.T. Barrett.
This year, however, Haskins is entering camp as Ohio State’s starting quarterback – thrusting him into the most high-profile role on the team and for that matter, one of the most high-profile positions in all of college sports.
Haskins, however, isn’t shying away from that spotlight, or the responsibility that comes with it.
"Now that J.T.’s not here, I got to take on a leadership role," Haskins said Thursday after volunteering at the Special Skills Football Invitational. "I’ve been doing a great job as far as since day one, since J.T. has been gone, to just embrace that. Be a good leader, be a good teammate and most importantly, be a friend for everybody. So I’m here if anyone needs me, and I’m always here to work. First one to be on the field, last one to leave."
While there’s no question that Haskins is carrying a heavier load on his shoulders now, the spotlight of being Ohio State’s starting quarterback doesn’t necessarily feel new to him. After all, Haskins was the top high school quarterback in the state of Maryland in 2015 (at the Bullis School in Potomac) and a highly touted recruit in the class of 2016, so it’s not as if he hasn’t already received plenty of attention.
"Even when I was in high school, everyone knew who I was," Haskins said.
Haskins recognizes that his teammates are counting on him to lead the way now that he is in line to be the Buckeyes’ starting quarterback, so he’s doing everything he can to show that he understands that responsibility.
"Being the guy is different than being the backup or a freshman that just came in, so I’m just embracing the opportunity, knowing that it’s different that everyone is leaning on you, so looking on to that and taking it head-on," Haskins said.
“I’m here if anyone needs me, and I’m always here to work. First one to be on the field, last one to leave.”– Dwayne Haskins
That’s important in the eyes of his head coach, Urban Meyer, who has repeatedly said that leadership is one of the top qualities – even more important than ability to pass the ball – he looks for in a quarterback.
"I’m very confident in the ability of the guys, but there’s a lot of newness," Meyer said last month when asked about his quarterbacks, with Tate Martell also competing for playing time at the position. "And that’s a void. J.T. Barrett was not a good leader, but a phenomenal leader."
Haskins has been working hard all offseason in preparation for his first season as the starting quarterback – even spending time working out with NFL quarterback Deshaun Watson – but he says he believes the entire team, with the help of director of sports performance Mickey Marotti, has put in the work necessary to have a chance to compete for a championship this year.
"It’s been a grind ever since winter workouts started," Haskins said. "I think we’re ready as a team and we’re ready to take on camp and get ready for the season. Been a lot of running, a lot of lifting with Coach Mick, and we’re all embracing the opportunity to go win these games this year."
Haskins has been trying to keep his focus locked in on his offseason preparation, which he was already working hard at even before this season, so the offseason grind hasn’t necessarily been anything new. Once the season begins against Oregon State on Sept. 1, however, that is when Haskins believes he will truly feel the difference of being the starting quarterback.
"I’ll probably start feeling it when it’s time to play a game, but right now it’s just getting ready for the game, so I haven’t really felt that difference yet," Haskins said.