Dwayne Haskins Set A New Standard for Ohio State Passers, Inspiring the Elite Quarterback Play That’s Continued Ever Since

By Dan Hope on April 10, 2022 at 8:35 am
Dwayne Haskins

Dwayne Haskins’ legacy lives on at Ohio State not only because of what he accomplished during his own career as the Buckeyes’ starting quarterback, but because of how he inspired the elite quarterback play that Ohio State has had since and will likely continue to have.

Over the past few years, elite passing offenses have become the standard at Ohio State. As C.J. Stroud enters his second season as Ohio State’s starting quarterback following Justin Fields’ two-year run as the Buckeyes’ signal-caller, it’s become the expectation that Ohio State quarterbacks will contend for the Heisman Trophy and go on to become first-round NFL draft picks. 

With Kyle McCord and Devin Brown waiting in the wings behind Stroud, and plenty of highly touted quarterback recruits considering following in their footsteps, Ohio State appears poised to be led by elite passers for years to come.

Ohio State’s history of quarterback play, however, pales in comparison to the prolific passing production the Buckeyes have had at the position over the past four years. It was Haskins’ emergence as a star quarterback in 2018, when he broke just about all of Ohio State’s single-season passing records, that set the foundation for Ohio State’s emergence as a destination for elite quarterbacks.

That’s not to say Ohio State didn’t have great quarterbacks before Haskins. J.T. Barrett, the quarterback who preceded Haskins, still holds most of Ohio State’s career quarterback records. Before Barrett, Braxton Miller was a two-time Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year and arguably the most dynamic playmaker Ohio State has ever had. Troy Smith, of course, won the Heisman Trophy as the best player in college football in 2006.

But none of them ever picked defenses apart the way Haskins did with his arm in 2018, when he threw for 4,831 yards and 50 touchdowns, shattering the previous school records of 3,330 passing yards (Joe Germaine in 1998) and 35 touchdown passes (Barrett in 2017). At a school where a quarterback had previously topped 400 passing yards in a single game only once (Art Schlichter in 1981), Haskins did it five times in 2018 alone.

Dwayne Haskins’ Ohio State Records vs. Previous Records
Completion Percentage 70.0 63.5 (J.T. Barrett)
Passing Yards Per Game 245.3 188.7 (J.T. Barrett)
300-Yard Passing Games 8 (Joe Germaine, J.T. Barrett)
400-Yard Passing Games 5 1 (Art Schlichter)
Passing Efficiency 174.0 157.1 (Troy Smith)
Total Offense Per Game 254.1  253.9 (J.T. Barrett)
Passing Yards 4,831  3,330 (Joe Germaine)
Pass Completions 373  240 (J.T. Barrett)
Pass Attempts 533 384 (Joe Germaine)
Completion Percentage 70.0 65.3 (Troy Smith)
Touchdown Passes 50  35 (J.T. Barrett)
Passing Yards Per Game 345.1 277.5 (Joe Germaine)
200-Yard Passing Games 14 11 (Joe Germaine, Bobby Hoying)
300-Yard Passing Games 9 7 (Joe Germaine)
400-Yard Passing Games 5 1 (Art Schlichter)
Consecutive 200-Yard Passing Games 14 10 (Joe Germaine)
Passing Efficiency 174.1 169.8 (J.T. Barrett)
Total Offense 4,939 3,851 (J.T. Barrett)
Total Offense Per Game 352.8 314.3 (J.T. Barrett)
Touchdowns Responsible For 54 47 (J.T. Barrett)
Games Gaining 200 Yards of Total Offense 14 11 (J.T. Barrett)
Games Gaining 300 Yards of Total Offense 9 7 (J.T. Barrett)
Games Gaining 400 Yards of Total Offense 5 1 (Troy Smith, Art Schlichter)
Passing Yards 499 vs. Northwestern (2018) 458 (Art Schlichter)
Pass Completions 49 vs. Purdue (2018) 33 (J.T. Barrett)
Pass Attempts 73 vs. Purdue (2018) 52 (Art Schlichter)
Touchdown Passes 6 vs. Indiana/Michigan (2018) 6 (J.T. Barrett, Kenny Guiton)
Total Offense 506 vs. Northwestern (2018) 423 (J.T. Barrett)
Note: Some of Haskins’ records have since been surpassed by Justin Fields and/or C.J. Stroud.

While Smith, Miller and Barrett were all dual-threats whose skill sets were far better suited for the college game than the NFL game, Haskins – with the tutelage of then-offensive coordinator Ryan Day – proved a pro-style pocket passer could thrive at Ohio State. He went on to be the No. 15 overall pick in the 2019 NFL draft, becoming Ohio State’s first Round 1 quarterback since Schlichter in 1982.

It’s become easy to take great quarterback play at Ohio State for granted, and even at the time, Haskins’ historically great season didn’t necessarily get all of the love that it deserved. Urban Meyer’s suspension to begin the season and retirement at the end of the year often dominated the headlines in 2018, and Haskins’ individual excellence was overshadowed at times by the Buckeyes’ defensive struggles, which led to a loss at Purdue that kept them from playing in the College Football Playoff that year.

In the years since, much of the discourse about Haskins’ time at Ohio State focused on whether the Buckeyes should have instead started Joe Burrow that season, considering what Burrow went on to do at LSU and is now doing in the NFL with the Cincinnati Bengals.

But Haskins’ Ohio State legacy never should have been defined by how his first three years in the NFL went or how Burrow did after he left Ohio State. Really, Haskins’ legacy never should have been solely defined by his performance on the football field whether good or bad, as many of the tributes that poured in following his death on Saturday remembered him for the man he was off the field more than the player he was on it.

Speaking strictly from a football perspective, though, Haskins should be remembered for redefining what was possible for an Ohio State quarterback as a passer. Everything that Fields and Stroud have accomplished since, and Stroud and others could accomplish in the years to come, has been built off of that foundation.

Had Haskins not had the year he did in 2018, Fields may have never transferred to Ohio State in 2019. Fields and Haskins were friends even before Fields transferred to Ohio State, and Fields’ decision to become a Buckeye after he decided to leave Georgia was motivated by Haskins’ success the year prior.

“It was great to see what he did last year, and I’m just hoping to do the same thing,” Fields said in his first media availability at Ohio State in February 2019.

Haskins’ success also inspired Stroud’s decision to sign with the Buckeyes in December 2019. While Stroud had also seen Fields thrive in his first season at Ohio State, Stroud – who wears the same No. 7 that Haskins wore for the Buckeyes – has often credited Haskins with setting an example at Ohio State that he has since tried to follow.

“You’ve seen Dwayne, you’ve seen him do what he’s doing when he was here. You’ve seen Justin, what he did when he was here. And then I got to witness it (with Fields) last year. So you definitely want to picture yourself in those shoes,” Stroud said in December after he was selected as a Heisman finalist.

McCord, who committed to Ohio State in April 2019 – just five days after Haskins was drafted – also chose to become a Buckeye because he envisioned himself following in Haskins’ footsteps.

“Seeing what they did with Dwayne last year is really eye-opening,” McCord told cleveland.com in 2019. “To only start one season and be one of the top QBs in the draft says a lot about the system.”

Stroud will take his best shot at breaking some of Haskins’ records this year – he already broke some last year – and either McCord or Brown is capable of being the Buckeyes’ next star quarterback in 2023. If things keep going the way they’re going, there’s reason to believe the last few years are only the beginning of Ohio State being one of the top destinations for elite quarterbacks from throughout the country.

That said, Ohio State’s reputation of being one of the best schools in the country for an elite quarterback to play at is one that’s mostly come to be since Haskins starred for the Buckeyes. And because of that, Haskins should be forever remembered as one of Ohio State’s all-time great quarterbacks no matter what current and future Buckeye quarterbacks might achieve in the years to come.

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