Rapp Around: Did Saturday Night’s Snub Set The Table For Haskins?

By Jeff Rapp, December 12th, 2018

After a an eye-opening and record-setting year that brought him to New York City as a Heisman Trophy contender, Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins has a big decision to make.

And after seeing Haskins stand next to Oklahoma dual-threat quarterback Kyler Murray and Alabama lefty QB Tua Tagovailoa in the buildup to Saturday night’s Heisman announcement, it’s easy to see Haskins has them both beat on size and physical presence.

Listed 6-3 and 216 pounds, Haskins looks even bigger than that and has a right hand that looks like it could palm a watermelon. And he’s got a cannon of a right arm to go with it, one that torched defenses all season and put up the best passing numbers in Big Ten history.

It’s safe to say NFL scouts are now drooling – and it’s almost a sure bet that a potential player agent or two approached Haskins and his family while they were in the Big Apple, no doubt talking about top-10 contention in the draft and head-spinning amounts and signing bonus money.

Haskins is only a redshirt sophomore with a game yet to play this season – the Rose Bowl vs. Pac-12 champ Washington on New Year’s Day (5 p.m. Eastern, ESPN) – but he is draft eligible this spring should he decide to bolt. He’s also already 21 and will turn 22 on May 3.

And one has to wonder if outgoing head coach Urban Meyer, who met with the Haskins family in New York to support his Heisman festivities appearances, is even putting up much resistance to the idea of Haskins going pro. After all, Meyer is retiring immediately after the Rose Bowl, and having Tate Martell or someone else ready to pilot the OSU offense would be Ryan Day’s problem.

It’s also noteworthy, that Haskins mentioned while in NYC that he’d one day love to become the quarterback of the New York Giants. Haskins grew up in Highland Park, N.J., before moving to Maryland when he was in ninth grade.

He originally committed to Maryland but ended up signing with Ohio State, his dream school, to accomplish big goals on the biggest stage.

But we also know Haskins is a level-headed young man who isn’t just looking for a payday. In fact, sources indicate he and his family don’t plan to discuss his future fully until after the Rose Bowl and are still open-minded to the idea of him returning and completing his degree.

It’s also fair to say that despite racking up more than 4,500 yards and making just about every conceivable throw this season, Haskins still has some learning to do. He could dedicate himself to getting in even better shape and concentrating more on how to read defenses and find secondary receivers, which really would wow the pros.

Plus, Haskins is just getting his sea legs. He didn’t become a viable running option until the second half of the season and didn’t really threaten with that part of his game until the wild 52-51 win at Maryland in front of his friends and family.

And then there’s the recent unpleasantries. While Haskins was well-treated in New York City and had equal stage time during the hourlong television broadcast on ESPN, it eventually became clear that he was an afterthought to Heisman voters. Murray won the award with 2,167 voting points while taking every region but the South, Tagovailoa came in second with a tally of 1,871 while Haskins was a distant third at 783.

While a guest on an ESPN show on Saturday, Haskins had to sit through a lengthy piece about Murray and Tagovailoa and then was asked which one of the two he believed would win the Heisman. When Murray was officially announced as the winner just after 9 p.m., Haskins couldn’t mask the look of disappointment on his face, although he classily hugged and congratulated the diminutive and dynamic Sooners QB.

Consider that Haskins felt a bit dissed after accomplishing the following records:

* Six times as the Big Ten offensive player of the week;

* The Big Ten record for touchdowns responsible for with 51 (47 passing, four rushing), breaking J.T. Barrett’s record of 47 set last year;

* The Big Ten single-season record for passing yardage (4,580 yards) and touchdowns (47);

* Ohio State records for single-season passing yards and touchdowns as well as for completions (348) and completion percentage (70.2 percent); and

* The Ohio State single-game record for passing yards (499) and tying the school record for touchdown passes (six).

By the way, that last batch of records came in a 45-24 win over Northwestern in the Big Ten Championship Game. Northwestern has one of the nation’s most hard-nosed, bend-but-don’t-break defenses in the country, but Haskins broke it anyway.

He also threw for 318 yards, five touchdowns and no interceptions in the 62-39 win over Michigan – which entered Ohio Stadium with the nation’s best defense.

In fact, over the last three weeks of the campaign, Haskins threw for a combined 1,300 yards and accounted for 17 touchdowns. Yet the data shows that the majority of Heisman voters who actually waited for the season to conclude tabbed Murray at the top of their ballots. We also know that hundreds of voters – hundreds – didn’t even put Haskins in their top three.

A product of The Bullis School in Potomac, Md., Haskins is just the fifth Heisman Trophy finalist from Ohio State since 1982. The others were Keith Byars (1984), Eddie George (1995), Orlando Pace (1996) and Troy Smith (2006).

Pace is the only Buckeye from that group to leave before his senior season, doing so in 1997 to become the No. 1 pick of the NFL draft.

Prior to 1982, only the Heisman Trophy winner was invited to New York City for the awards ceremony. The award dates to 1935.

It’s clear that Haskins has accomplished a lot in a short amount of time, which is what the NFL scouts seem to like.

In his first year starting for the Scarlet and Gray, Haskins has won virtually every award there is to win. Most recently, he claimed the Silver Football Award from the Chicago Tribune as the Big Ten’s best player. That came two days after Haskins was named the Big Ten Conference’s Graham-George Offensive Player of the Year and the league’s Griese-Brees Quarterback of the Year.

Long-armed, athletic and uniquely talented, Haskins became a college star in 2018.

Prior to this season, Ohio State had just one 400-yard passing game in its record books. Now, thanks to Haskins, it has six. Five times this year he’s eclipsed the 400-yard mark and nine times he’s thrown for 300 or more yards. He also set the Big Ten total offense record last Saturday (4,702), breaking the mark previously held by Michigan’s Denard Robinson.

Six times this year he was named the Big Ten’s Offensive Player of the Week, which established a new record for the most weekly honors.

High ceilings and small sample sizes seem to be the trend for high draft picks. Heavy production is only gravy. Haskins has all of the above on his resume and seems ready to get paid for his efforts.

But maybe just maybe Haskins set a new focus on Saturday night. Maybe coming back to chase a national championship and become Ohio State’s eighth Heisman Trophy winner – which would put the program back in the lead in that regard – is looking a little more alluring.

Is it likely Dwayne Haskins jets off into the professional ranks after this season? Yes. Is it an absolute certainty? No, not at present.