Being the third string quarterback at Ohio State proved to be a blessing in disguise for Cardale Jones this time two years ago. While a similar situation does not appear to be likely, the Buckeyes current third string signal caller is still making strides.
When asked which players had impressed him in bowl practice, linebacker Jerome Baker did not hesitate to bring up Dwayne Haskins Jr., who has yet to see the field in his first season at Ohio State.
"Dwayne has been slinging it lately," Baker said of Haskins, who has been playing the part of Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson in practice. "Dwayne is definitely getting better. These past few practices, he has been throwing it like a maniac. He is good."
Haskins committed to Ohio State after being a longtime commit to Maryland under head coach Randy Edsall. He, along with fellow Maryland native KeAndre Jones flipped to the Buckeyes on Jan. 18, helping solidify another top class for OSU.
While Ohio State carried three scholarship quarterbacks at the time of his commitment (J.T. Barrett, Joey Burrow, Stephen Collier), Haskins came in during the summer and immediately made an impact on wide receiver Dontre Wilson before the season had even started.
"That dude can throw. I worked out with him a lot during the summer and now to see him in camp and in pads, he can sling the pill," Wilson said in August.
Even though he was more than a year behind Burrow, Haskins pushed him for the backup spot behind Barrett, but ultimately lost out to the Ohio native.
Despite all of that, quarterbacks coach Tim Beck said he has seen Haskins continue to improve throughout the season and into bowl practice even though he does not get many reps with the first or second team offenses.
"This is the good part of having these extra weeks of practice, you get to have these guys play a little bit. Dwayne is a very talented young man, but a lot of times as a third string quarterback during the season, you don't get many reps," Beck said Thursday. "The future is definitely bright at that position with Dwayne."
While he is sometimes forced to play on the scout team to give the first team defense a good look, Haskins has been getting mental reps throughout the season, and Beck said he even earned a chance to work with the second team offense during bowl practice, something he took advantage of.
"Sometimes it is hard to send him to scout team, because he is a play away from being the backup," Beck added. "Joe had a final (exam) the other day, and had to miss the last part of practice. Dwayne got a chance to go with the two's and looked really good."
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