Rivals remembers Dwayne Haskins
Few players have the quiet confidence and aura about them that Dwayne Haskins Jr. had. He'd walk into a room or onto the field and all eyes were on him. As a player, teammate, and athlete, Haskins was a standout.
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Of course, most people around here knew Haskins. The New Jersey native was quickly adopted by the football community in the Washington D.C. metro area known as the DMV when his family moved to the Maryland suburbs. He'd never let you forget that he was from the Garden State and regularly brought up his friendship with Mo Jabbie, a fellow 2016 prospect who signed with Rutgers. Haskins spoke fondly of the time he spent playing youth ball in New Jersey and he’d frequently work out with Jabbie and his cousin, NFL receiver Mohammad Sanu, growing up.
In high school, Haskins played for the Bullis School in Potomac, Md., a well-respected private school a little more than 30 minutes from my home. I saw him play regularly during his high school career but he really burst onto the recruiting scene at the 2014 Rivals Camp Series in Baltimore.
Haskins won the quarterback MVP award that day, among a loaded group of upperclassmen, and the offers started pouring in as that spring turned into summer. We knew he had the talent to win MVP if he showed up and performed, and he blew away the competition. Looking back on that roster, there were multiple future NFL players on the field that day.
The word I always associated with Haskins was smooth. He seemed to perform almost effortlessly. Somehow, in all the pressure situations during the season and in camps and 7-on-7 tournaments, I felt like I had never seen him sweat or look like he was working all that hard. My perspective changed entirely when I had the opportunity to attend one of Haskins’ private training sessions. His work ethic, passion for the game, and focus were obvious, and it became clear that the reason he looked so effortless in games was because of the amount of work he put in between them.
His passion translated to the field, where he had fun with his teammates and did what they all loved to do. Between the white lines, it was easy to see why people were drawn to him and looked to him as a leader.
I vividly remember being at a Bullis game when it hosted The Avalon School, whose star player at the time was a future defensive back for Alabama and the Dallas Cowboys named Trevon Diggs. Haskins and Diggs were very close and had been eagerly talking up that game for a while. Bullis won the game handily and Haskins filled up the stat sheet. On one play he took the snap and felt pressure almost immediately. He escaped the pocket and ran for the first down. It's surprising that that play from a quarterback known for making flashy plays is etched in my memory. I had seen Haskins play dozens of times by that point and had countless conversations with him and his father, but that was the play that bubbled up in my mind on Saturday morning when I heard about his passing.
This simple play kept replaying in my head. In his career, he’d have so many show-stopping performances, plays of the week and game-winners. What stuck out to me, though, was that on some level, he seemed to know it wasn’t the flashy performances that made him special. It was the foundation he’d built playing youth ball with his friends, the hard work with his trainers and coaches, the guidance from his family and their never-ending mutual support that would carry him through to victory.
At his core, Dwayne Haskins Jr. was an athlete driven by an internal motivation to be the best. He didn’t achieve his success on his own and he let everyone who helped him know how thankful he was for their support. Haskins’ time was cut short, but, as the saying goes, life is about the journey, not the destination. I’m thankful for the time I had interacting with Haskins and I’m 100-percent sure there are thousands of others that are saying the same thing.
Rest in peace, Dwayne.