Fans attending the spring game might have been given a look at the future as redshirt freshman quarterback Dwayne Haskins took the field behind center.
The second-year signal-caller finished the game 26-for-37 with 293 passing yards and three touchdowns, while splitting time playing behind redshirt senior J.T. Barrett on the Gray team and sophomore Joe Burrow on the Scarlet team.
For the bulk of the game, the offense of the Gray team was led by Haskins as he took over after Barrett completed the first quarter. Though he spent most of the time playing opposite Burrow, he did feel the need to outperform last season’s backup for a spot on the team.
“We were on the same team at first. We went back and forth on the first series we were out there,” Haskins said. “I was just like, go out there, you know pick up the offense, keep moving, encourage my teammates.”
The battle for the starting quarterback position might be over, but Haskins has provided Burrow with competition for the backup role. OSU coach Urban Meyer said the coaching staff is still undecided as to who will backup their three-time letter-winning quarterback.
“I want to watch the film and have conversations with our coaches,” Meyer said. “We haven’t had that yet. I know it is very close. But I’m not prepared to say who is two, who is three, et cetera, yet.”
Before the Fiesta Bowl, Haskins did not envision himself battling it out for the No. 2 spot, as he believed Barrett was on the way out.
Now relegated to the bench for another season, Haskins has accepted his role with the team, and has found the return of Barrett could help him better prepare for the day he will compete to become the starter.
“It’s J.T.’s team and I just know he’s doing everything he can to go win the game,” Haskins said. “We compete everyday at practice. It’s like he throws a deep ball, I’ve got to throw a deep ball. We make each other better.”
Beyond a competition standpoint, Haskins feels he has been given an opportunity to learn a lot from Barrett. And as Barrett stood behind Haskins on the field, he said it was valuable to have someone there helping him understand everything he needs to understand under center.
“(Barrett’s) a great leader,” Haskins said. “Just for me redshirting last year to now, he’s just been in my ear, you know, ‘Stay calm, get the people on the line of scrimmage, make sure receivers are set, just keep going, keep pushing.'”
Having someone like Barrett who has been a starter for three years now has been helpful as Haskins learns more of the intricacies of the No. 1 role. As he continues to progress as a quarterback with OSU, he has learned more about the responsibilities of the signal-caller beyond just throwing the football.
“I always knew I could throw the football, it was just coach (Ryan) Day told me it was more than that,” Haskins said. “How do you call plays in the huddle? How do you … showmanship? How do you adjust to blitzes and coverages and stuff? So it’s always been for me — I knew I could throw — so it was always just like being the better quarterback.”
Haskins knows this season will not be his last chance to regularly start under center for OSU. He will still have to wait as Barrett again takes the reins for the Buckeyes.
But serving as a second- or third-string quarterback for OSU this year will give him a chance to continue to perfect his game so he can tap into his potential and be more game-ready when his chance arrives.
“Everyday I ask coach Day, ‘What can I do better?’ or we go into meetings and I write down notes and I go study them in my dorm after practice,” Haskins said. “You know, it’s just they’re always stressing to me, ‘How do you continue to get better because you have great potential, what are you going to do with it?'”
OSU kicks off the season on Aug. 31, against Indiana.