The-Ozone Rewind: Urban Meyer Averts Disaster, Signs Dwayne Haskins

Dwayne Haskins Ohio State Football Buckeyes

[Editor’s Note: From now until Big Ten Media Days, we’ll be reaching into The-Ozone’s 23 years worth of archives and each day we will be posting a story from yesteryear. Big moments, small moments, big games, bigger games, and the random recruiting updates about guys you haven’t thought about in a decade or two.]

February 11, 2016 | This story comes from our old pal Pat Murphy (@_Pat_Murphy) and was written in the days following signing day in 2016. The particular rewind entry details Urban Meyer’s panic when former quarterback commitment Tristen Wallace decided he no longer wanted to be a quarterback, and Meyer’s immediate outreach to Maryland quarterback commit Dwayne Haskins.

Wallace signed with Oregon to play receiver, but redshirted in 2016. He then went to junior college for a year and finally ended up at Prairie View A&M, where last year as a redshirt sophomore he caught 38 passes for 629 yards and four touchdowns. He also played in 11 games for the basketball team, scoring two points in his 22 minutes of action. Haskins, meanwhile, didn’t catch nearly as many passes as Wallace. And it wouldn’t be the last time Haskins had to step in late to replace a quarterback who went down. — TG

The Buckeyes thought they had their 2016 quarterback locked and ready.

Tristen Wallace was the 10th-ranked athlete in the country according to the 247Sports Composite after throwing for 2,167 yards and 12 touchdowns and rushing for 1,478 more yards and 16 additional scores as a senior in high school.

The DeSoto, Texas native committed to Ohio State in April of 2015 and made multiple visits to Columbus.

Then in mid-December, Wallace took an official visit to UCLA and Oregon and committed to the Ducks after electing to change from quarterback to wide receiver.

“That was a very strenuous moment when the previous commitment decided not to play the position,” Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer said of Wallace’s decision. “And I was actually in a hotel room in New Jersey when I got the phone call. I mean, my mouth went dry, I said, ‘What?’ Because every other quarterback was committed, basically.”

Tristen Wallace following a visit to an OSU summer camp, 2015

Meyer and his staffed looked around at some of the non-committed quarterback prospects but were not impressed. Because of that, Meyer contacted Maryland commit Dwayne Haskins.

“I made the call to Dwayne and we had a great relationship prior to [his commitment],” Meyer said. “He’s been here several times. I know he’s a big Ohio State fan growing up. And the relationship instantly was right exactly where it was when we went our separate ways.”

Haskins visited Columbus in early December and a month later the four-star quarterback was an OSU commit. On Feb. 3, Haskins signed his National Letter of Intent and he was a Buckeye.

“He’s an impact recruit,” Meyer said.

“I anticipate after going — he went through a workout and watching him, watching his film and the way he’s been trained — he’s got an excellent quarterback coach — that he will compete for playing time as a true freshman.”

For Meyer to say that Haskins could see the field next season speaks volumes about the recruit. Ohio State has redshirt junior J.T. Barrett returning with 3,826 passing yards and 67 total career touchdowns in 17 career starts. Backing Barrett up is redshirt freshman Joe Burrow and redshirt sophomore Stephen Collier.

Since Haskins won’t enroll until June, he will have to climb up the depth chart quickly, but that may not be a problem for the newcomer.

“The fundamentals that Dwayne Haskins possesses right now is as good as I’ve ever seen in a young quarterback,” Meyer said.

“As good a release and arm strength that I’ve seen at that age since I’ve been recruiting. If you go watch his highlight tape, just watch the ball come out of his hand, his arm strength, he’s a good 6-foot-3-plus.”

The one knock anyone can find on Haskins at Ohio State is that he’s a pro-style quarterback operating in an option offense. As Buckeye fans saw last year with Cardale Jones, it can be problematic for the Scarlet and Gray when a quarterback can’t make read-option plays.

But Meyer is not concerned about that with Haskins, comparing him to his former quarterback at Utah and No. 1 overall draft pick Alex Smith with his running ability.

“He’s a very good athlete,” he said. “He wasn’t asked to run a lot, but when he did he was a very good athlete. I remember when we ran him around here, a very good athlete.”

Two months ago, it appeared Ohio State was bringing in an elite athlete who would work his way into a quarterback. By signing day, however, Meyer had made quick work to get a passer who could compete for playing time in year one.

Sounds like a job well done once again for the Buckeyes.

3 Responses

  1. I read that not once did myer’s initial qb commit in a given year, end up at osu. If that’s true, that is an amazing stat. That means he would be flipping a qb every year. Miller would have been his first qb to not flip, if…

    1. That’s not true. Only the last four classes, which still ain’t great. In 2013, it was JTB. In 2014, it was Stephen Collier because Urban went all-in on Deshaun Watson, rightfully. In 2015, it was Joe Burrow and Torrance Gibson. Beginning in 2016, they lost Tristen Wallace, Danny Clark (2017), Emory Jones (2018), and Dwan Mathis (2019). Wallace quit the position, Clark was passed over, Jones was too wishy washy so they grabbed Matthew Baldwin while Jones was still committed, essentially choosing Baldwin over Jones. Mathis decommitted because Fields was going to Ohio State. The real problem is that their replacements for those decommitments are all gone, save for Fields.

  2. It’s amazing how Urban’s “almost screw up” started even from the point of Dwayne’s recruitment. He did not make a good decision to name JT as a starting QB in 2017 and yes his lack of ruthlessness to name Dwayne as a starter even after the Oklahoma game (heck even after the 31-0 annihilation by Dabo the prior year) cost him a championship in my opinion. All respect to Urban, but he was too stuck on a style of offense that did not surprise college football anymore (too bad that we were on the bad side of that surprise in 2007 as well). His loyalty to under performing assistants at the end of his career did not help as well. Still a legend though.

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