In an alternate universe, Dwayne Haskins is Maryland’s starting quarterback right now. But in this one, he’s a Heisman candidate and on pace to break records in his first season starting for Ohio State.
Haskins and the No. 10 Buckeyes visit College Park on Saturday, which gives Haskins the chance to play in front of more family and friends than he has all season.
The former Bullis quarterback committed to Maryland in April 2015 and started recruiting other local blue-chippers to join him. But after the Terps went 3-9 and overhauled the coaching staff, Haskins explored other options. He remained committed until January, when he and linebacker Keandre Jones flipped to Ohio State on the same day. Maryland signed Tyrrell Pigrome and Max Bortenschlager at the last minute after Haskins’ departure; Pigrome will start this week.
“I’d probably say it was very hard just because of the relationships I’d built there at the university with the coaches, teachers and players and commits. Just how hard it was to say no, I wasn’t going there any more,” Haskins said this week.
But he doesn’t regret his decision, nor should he. After redshirting in 2016 and serving as J.T. Barrett’s backup last year, Haskins has made the most of his starting opportunity. The redshirt sophomore is completing 68.9 percent of his passes, with 33 touchdowns and just six interceptions this season. Despite some curious struggles in the run game, Ohio State is averaging 40.6 points per game.
“Their offense has been and always does a great job of finding matchups and attacking you where you could be vulnerable — and you have to be vulnerable somewhere,” Maryland interim coach Matt Canada said.
Several Maryland players are still close with Haskins, particularly defensive tackle Adam McLean, his neighbor in Gaithersburg. So there’s an element of friendly rivalry on top of what’s already an important game for both sides.
“He’s a competitor, I’m a competitor, so in the heat of the moment, we’re both out there to do our job and take care of business, but I think it’ll be fun,” McLean said.
Haskins told reporters he knows “pretty much everyone” on this year’s Maryland team, so he’s been able to help with the team’s game plan. But that works both ways. Several Maryland players have gone head-to-head against Haskins before, and when that experience is coupled with 10 games of film from this season, the Terps know what they have to do.
“Dwayne is definitely the kind of guy who likes to sit in the pocket and throw the ball,” McLean said. “He can use his legs, but he will throw it first, so you’ve definitely got to press the pocket and make him feel a little uncomfortable, make him throw those issue passes and give our DBs the best chance to make a play on the ball. They have 17 interceptions, so try to get them another one this week.”
In other news
It’s the early signing period for all sports other than football. Maryland men’s basketball has signed twin centers Makhi and Makhel Mitchell, and will officially add forward Donta Scott today.
The women’s basketball team, meanwhile, signed all four members of the nation’s top-ranked class.
Maryland then eviscerated George Washington on the road, holding the Colonials to 10-of-57 shooting in a 69-30 win.
Wrestling coach Kerry McCoy announced Youssif Hemida, Alfred Bannister and Jahi Jones as team captains for 2018-19.
And in other signing day news...