Ever since Dwayne Haskins was young, he’s been compared to a lion. Originally, he was given the nickname “Simba” because of his obsession with The Lion King movie and a large afro that reminded his aunt of a lion’s mane. Today, he resembles the animal associated with royalty because of his play on the football field and his mindset off of it. Eastbay got a chance to sit down with the rookie quarterback and chat about some of his lion-like characteristics and the hype around possibly becoming the future king of Washington.
Much like a lion stalking, waiting, and game-planning on a hunt, Haskins is patient and calculated. During his first two seasons at Ohio State, Haskins spent most of his time watching his team from the sideline. He redshirted in 2016 and spent 2017 serving as the backup quarterback to proven starter J.T. Barrett.
“It wasn’t necessarily frustrating not playing right away, it was more of a learning experience,” Haskins said. “I stayed longer after practice to get extra throws in. I lifted more than I needed to be ready physically. Everything was calculated down to the smallest detail.”
Haskins now finds himself in a familiar scenario at the professional level. After being selected as the No. 15 pick in the draft, Haskins has entered a heated battle for Washington’s starting quarterback position. Competing against veterans Colt McCoy and Case Keenum, Haskins has embraced the same mindset that he adopted in college.
“I’m in a similar situation now that I’m here in Washington,” Haskins said. “I’m going to have to earn my spot by proving myself every day as a leader, quarterback, and a football player. That’s going to take time, but I’m coming in ready to learn, willing to work hard, and do everything I can to be the best quarterback I can be.”
Although Haskins trusts the process of waiting his turn, that doesn’t mean he’s complacent. In fact, he’s proven time and time again that when given the opportunity to perform, he’s quite dangerous on the football field.
Haskins’ first opportunity to display his lion-like, competitive fierceness came when Barrett exited Ohio State’s final 2017 regular season game with a knee injury. Haskins entered the game without missing a beat. He led his team into the end zone on the very first drive and eventually completed a 31-20 comeback victory on the road against their bitter rival Michigan.
“That was the most memorable moment in my college career,” Haskins said about his performance that day. “It was my first time playing in a big-time atmosphere, and I helped my team come back and win that game.”
The very next season, Haskins won the starting quarterback job and tore the college football landscape apart by compiling 4,831 passing yards and 50 touchdowns against only eight interceptions. In just one year, he had become a superstar and a leader at one of the most prestigious football programs in the country.
“You have to be a leader when playing quarterback. Just like a lion has to be the leader of the pride,” Haskins said. “If a lion doesn’t attack, then he doesn’t eat. And you best believe I’m going to eat.”
Haskins also displays the same fierceness when his talents are doubted. After he was selected behind fellow quarterbacks Kyler Murray and Daniel Jones in the draft, Haskins was excited to join Washington but also vocal about the teams that passed him up. At his draft day party, he told ESPN, “The league done messed up.”
“I’ve always had a chip on my shoulder from the day I started playing football,” Haskins said when asked about the viral quote. “I was never the guy that had all the respect, but I just keep persevering. To still not be respected as much as I think I should be drives me every day. It makes me work harder, makes me take that extra rep at practice, and just motivates me daily.”
Now that his “Simba” moniker has evolved into a homage to becoming a king in the NFL, Haskins has the chance to become iconic. So, it was only fitting when he signed on to become a part of the Jordan Brand family, known for partnering with some of the most influential athletes in the world.
“I’m blessed for the opportunity to be a part of the Jordan Brand because it’s a very select group,” Haskins said. “And of course, Michael Jordan is the best basketball player ever, and I want to be the best football player ever.”
To shop the Jordan gear Haskins uses to stand out on the field, visit eastbay.com.