Dwayne Haskins Jr.: The Future King

Dwayne Haskins Jr.: The Future King

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.

Haskins Retro 1

Patient

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.”

Fierce

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.”

Confident

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.

J.T. Barrett: A Leader At Every Level

J.T. Barrett: A Leader At Every Level

J.T. Barrett Featured

Perseverance. Leadership. Competitiveness. Quarterback J.T. Barrett’s most impressive traits are also what make him so unique. 

Barrett was the only three-time captain in Ohio State history and it’s easy to see why. He was the type of leader that teammates rally around in the huddle and he knew when to speak out and when to lead by example. But now, he’s about to start his pro football career – and he’ll have to join a team full of established veteran players. So how will that affect his role in the locker room? That’s simple. It won’t. 

“I feel like I’ll take the same approach I did while at Ohio State,” Barrett said. “Obviously, I’m not going to step in and run the whole ship from day one and I will respect the vets, but, once I get to my new team, I will observe what’s going on around me. There are always ways to encourage guys and help make them better. I’ll earn the respect and trust of my teammates once they see the hard work that I put in.” 

The success that OSU had with Barrett leading the way is pretty ridiculous. They finished 38-6 in games he started and he left with over 25 school records, including career passing yards (9,434) and completions (769).  

Yet, the three-time Big 10 Quarterback of the Year has been flying somewhat under the radar during this whole pre-draft process. Despite his intangibles, some scouts question his arm strength and release.  

But Barrett isn’t stressed by any of the negative press – he knows he will be a steal for whoever does draft him, and he knows he has a solid base who will back him up along the way. 

“I have some great people in my life who keep me calm and mentally prepared for everything,” Barrett explained. He cites his parents, his high school head coach Jim Garfield, and his best friend’s dad as role models who have always provided him with wise words and endless support. 

No matter where or when he gets drafted, you can bet that Barrett will put in the work to get better, too.  

2017 College Football Preview: The Top 10 Teams You Need To Watch

2017 College Football Preview: The Top 10 Teams You Need To Watch

With college football season finally here, let’s talk about what you really care about — those teams with the best shot to make it to the playoffs. So who will be the last four standing? Here are the 10 teams you need to watch:

1. Alabama (AP Rank 1)

College Alabama

Number one is no surprise. Nick Saban’s squad lost a ton of key players to the NFL last year, but, like always, the roster is stacked with elite prospects groomed to take their place. Watch for dangerous running QB Jalen Hurts to improve as a passer this year, junior wideout Calvin Ridley to contend for numerous awards, and for the Crimson Tide to hold on to the number one seed.

2. Ohio State (AP Rank 2)

College OSU

Urban Meyer and co. have their own incredible recruiting class and they’ll be put to good use. The Buckeyes will be led by experienced senior J.T. Barrett on offense, but the real gem of the team is the defensive line. Linemen Tyquan Lewis, Nick Bosa, and Sam Hubbard should be wreaking havoc in opposing backfields all season long.

3. Florida State (AP Rank 3)

College FSU

FSU was dealt a major blow in 2016 when safety Derwin James missed almost the entire year with a knee injury. The versatile, athletic playmaker may just be the best defensive player in college football, and the whole unit will improve drastically with him on the field in 2017. On the other side of the ball, QB Deondre Francois will look to build off of a solid freshman season without the help of do-everything RB Dalvin Cook, who is now a Minnesota Viking.

4. Clemson (AP Rank 5)

College Clemson

This may seem high for a team that seemingly lost key players at every position, but there’s still talent across the board. Junior QB Kelly Bryant has the biggest shoes to fill, but with great receiving options like Deon Cain and Hunter Renfrow still around, the Tigers don’t need him to be Deshaun Watson 2.0. They host FSU on November 11 in a game that could have major playoff implications.

5. Penn State (AP Rank 6)

College Penn St

Remember the name Saquon Barkley come awards season. The electrifying Nittany Lion RB is primed for a huge year. QB Trace McSorley and TE Mike Gesicki are no slouches either. The date to pay attention to: October 28. If they want to head to the playoffs, they’ll have to get the W when they square off against the Buckeyes in Columbus.

6. USC (AP Rank 4)

College USC

QB Sam Darnold and RB Ronald Jones give the Trojans a formidable backfield and guarantee that this offense can keep score with anyone. The defense is led by junior LB Cameron Smith and is full of solid players, but USC’s schedule will be a beast. They’ll have plenty of difficult tests, including battles against Stanford, Texas, and Washington State.

7. Washington (AP Rank 8)

College Washington

From WR John Ross to the formidable secondary trio of Kevin King, Sidney Jones, and Budda Baker, the Huskies lost a lot of talent to the NFL. But this year’s team still has a star signal caller in junior Jake Browning and plenty of young talent to pick up the pieces at corner and safety. Look for Chris Petersen’s team to be in the hunt all season long.

8. Wisconsin (AP Rank 9)

The schedule sets up very favorably for the Badgers this season. Besides a Nov. 18 battle against Michigan, this unit will almost undoubtedly be favored in every game they play. If Coach Chryst can get a step up in performance from sophomore QB Alex Hornibrook to complement their always-formidable running attack, the offense should be solid. And ‘solid’ is all this team will need on that end if the Wisconsin defense can perform as well as they did in 2016.

9. Michigan (AP Rank 11)

College Michigan

Only one starter returns on the Wolverine defense. 11 Michigan alumni heard their name called during this April’s NFL Draft. Simply put, Jim Harbaugh lost a lot of quality players heading into 2017. But the cupboard is far from bare. QB Wilton Speight is back after a solid year one, sophomore RB Chris Evans leads a great running back group, and the roster, as a whole, is loaded with five-star talent.

10. Auburn (AP Rank 12)

College Auburn

Former Baylor QB Jarrett Stidham will be given the keys on offense and he’s got a lot to work with. Sophomore WR Nate Craig-Myers and RB Kamryn Pettway should keep the points and yards flowing. The defense returns a lot of big-time playmakers and should be stout once again. The Tigers have a crucial early match up on September 9 when they go on the road to face Clemson.


Did we miss someone? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter @Eastbay. No matter how things shake out, one thing is certain: it’s going to be an amazing season.

NCAA: Eastbay Player of the Week – Jon Diebler

NCAA: Eastbay Player of the Week – Jon Diebler

words_Brandon Richard

They say it isn’t easy being number 1, but the Ohio State Buckeyes surely made it look that way last week. Tuning up for the NCAA Championship Tournament, Ohio State blitzed their way through conference rivals Penn State and Wisconsin en route to the Big Ten regular season championship. While forward Jared Sullinger is no doubt Ohio State’s best player, it was the big-time shooting of senior Jon Diebler that led the team to back-to-back 20-plus-point blowouts.

Diebler had an incredible week shooting from the field, draining 18 of his 22 shots, including 17 of 20 from three-point range. He averaged 28.5, 4.5 rebounds and 4.5 assists in the two Buckeye victories. His 10 three-pointers against Penn State on Tuesday tied a conference record. The hot long-distance shooting continued against Wisconsin on Sunday. Diebler knocked down six of seven and jokingly apologized to his teammates for missing one after the game.

Winding down his college career, Diebler will go down as one of the best shooters in Big Ten history. He’s even earned the locker room nickname of “3bler.” Will his hot shooting continue as the Buckeyes seek their first National Championship since 1960?

NCAA: Eastbay Player of the Week – Jon Diebler

NCAA: Eastbay Player of the Week – Jon DieblerDiebler walks off the court to an ovation in the Nike Air Max Fly By.

image via ESPN