The Ohio State offense is going to look very different this fall with Dwayne Haskins taking snaps in place of J.T. Barrett.
However, the change might be even more noticeable off the field.
Barrett was a three-time captain, and is hailed as one of the greatest leaders in the history of the Buckeye football program.
Now, with Barrett gone, Haskins is stepping up to assume that leadership role.
It’s not necessarily something that comes naturally to the redshirt sophomore.
“For those two years that he was backing up J.T. (Barrett) he kind of was a keep to himself kind of guy,” senior wide receiver Parris Campbell said. “Now you can see him embracing the role that he’s about to step foot in. He’s getting out of his shell and actually trying to be that leader and develop those qualities.”
While Barrett was seemingly always calm during interviews with the media, he was a vocal leader in the locker room. Frequently, videos released by Ohio State during the 2017 season showed Barrett giving impassioned speeches to fire up the team before and during games. Players also described him as always being in control of the huddle.
That’s something Haskins still needs to master, although he showed flashes during his emergency relief appearance in Ann Arbor last fall. Campbell said he saw Haskins making progress as a leader as soon as he connected on a crucial 3rd-and-13 pass in the third quarter of that game.
“The play that he made with Austin Mack. I think in that moment right there, that got everything clicking for him,” Campbell said.
“In the huddle before he made that play, you could tell he was just a little bit of nervousness overcame him. But after that play, he was talking to guys, he was like ‘coach, what’s the play, what’s the play?’ Making adjustments. You could tell he just needed some type of play to give him just that inch of confidence. That play did that.”
Haskins didn’t get a chance to play against Wisconsin or USC in the Buckeyes’ final two games, so the dramatic comeback win over Michigan is the last impression most fans have of him.
However, Campbell says the quarterback has grown a lot since that day.
“In the weight room, on the field, he’s just a different dude. You can just see it in his work. He was kind of a guy who joked around a little bit, had funny times in the locker room. You don’t see that as often any more,” Campbell said. “When we’re in the weight room, you can really tell that he’s working hard on giving it his all.”
Haskins will get his first chance to lead the 2018 Buckeyes this Friday afternoon when the team opens its fall camp at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center.