No matter the year, player, or amount of experience, Urban Meyer has the same expectation: If you are the quarterback at The Ohio State University, you better be the best signal caller in the Big Ten Conference. There was no way that was going to change entering the 2018 college football season, either.
That means Dwayne Haskins, the 6-foot-3, 220-pound redshirt sophomore with a cannon for a right arm, will need to take his game to an insane level in replacing J.T. Barrett as the Buckeyes’ starting quarterback.
There are some strong Big Ten quarterbacks already in place that will make Haskins’ rise to stardom somewhat difficult, too. Penn State’s Trace McSorley and Michigan State’s Brian Lewerke come to mind rather quickly. So does Michigan’s Shea Patterson.
What makes them good? Ample starting experience.
Speaking at Big Ten Media Days in Chicago this week, Meyer made it clear that if the season started today, Haskins would be the guy, and has seen the young signal caller rising to the challenge to become a leader on offense.
“The big word is respect and earned,” Meyer said. “It’s the job of a leader. Earn trust. That’s the most — all due respect to other sports, this is the most unique position of all of sport. You have to understand the entire defense, have to understand all other 10 players, what they’re doing on offense. He has to make decisions in split seconds. And, by the way, he’s got people like [Nick] Bosa truing to tear his throat out.
“And so a very unique position. But he’s done very well.”
This is what the Ohio State faithful wanted, though. Haskins, who completed 40 of 57 passes (70.2 percent) for 565 yards with four touchdowns and one interception in eight appearances in 2017, was the fan-favorite at The Shoe, the guy many are enamored with due to his strong arm.
The Buckeyes want the hero who came in the third quarter at Michigan and was nails, going 6-for-7 for 94 yards in a comeback win.
That’s why Joe Burrow, who shined in Ohio State’s spring game, is turning heads at LSU right now, and Haskins, who was less impressive statistically but made some crazy good throws, is the guy expected to take the Buckeyes back the College Football Playoff, with Tate Martell serving as the backup in Columbus.
Haskins completed 9 of 19 passes for 120 yards and two touchdowns.
There is nothing to say Haskins, the Maryland native, is not ready or capable to make the transition and be the best quarterback in the Big Ten because he’s a stud, and there is nothing wrong with Meyer wanting to challenge his new signal caller to the get there.
But to expect him to be the best right now, in his first year in a full-time starting job? That very well could be unfair.