Ohio State played its spring game yesterday, and one of the school’s most high-profile alumni in recent years certainly had his presence felt. The Buckeyes honored the legacy of the late Dwayne Haskins, the Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback who lost his life last week when he was struck and killed by a dump truck as he attempted to cross a highway. The incident figures to remain under investigation for months.
Current Buckeyes quarterback C.J. Stroud paid tribute to his predecessor, which included wearing a nameplate on the back of his jersey that read “Haskins Jr.”. He spoke about his thoughts on his friend after the scrimmage game.
“I just wanted to honor maybe his last moment in the ‘Shoe’”, he said, via Andrew Lind of Sports Illustrated. “I feel like that’s a big brother of mine and I just wanted to honor him. It wasn’t nothing crazy to me. I just thought it would be important for him to go out the right way, so I’m glad his last play at the ‘Shoe was a touchdown. I’m excited for that”.
Stroud led his side’s offense to a 10-play touchdown drive that was capped off by a 29-yard touchdown pass. He and Haskins were never actually teammates, but alumni remain close, and he spoke of how the former first-round draft pick helped drive him.
“He’s just an inspiration. He always has been”, he said of Haskins. “I even watched him when he was in high school. I used to watch the Elite 11 documentaries all the time, and he was one of those dudes on there. So I watched him in that, looked up his highlights after and just went from there and started studying and watching over his career”.
Haskins was not without a profile growing up. He was an elite quarterback prospect even as a youth, and he led an upward trajectory all the way up to being drafted in the first round as an underclassman in 2019. While his NFL legacy fell short of where he hoped he would be able to take it in the future, his reputation as a Buckeye will forever be intact.
During his one full season as a starter in 2018, he led Ohio State to a 13-1 record, including a win over Northwestern in the Big Ten championship game, followed by taking down Washington in the Rose Bowl. He has a truly legendary game against Norwestern, throwing for 499 yards with five touchdowns.
That season, he completed 373 of 533 pass attempts for 4,831 yards, throwing 50 touchdowns to just eight interceptions with a quarterback rating of 174.1. He also scored another four touchdowns on the ground. Washington drafted him at the age of 21, 15th overall, the following spring, but while his last jersey was black and gold, in Ohio, he will always be viewed through scarlet-and-gray lenses.