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Football: Dwayne Haskins molds into starter in the eyes of wide receivers

Ohio State redshirt sophomore quarterback Dwayne Haskins (7) prepares for the next play during the second quarter of the 2018 Spring Game at Ohio Stadium on April 14. Gray beat Scarlet 37-14. Credit: Ris Twigg | Former Assistant Photo Editor

Ohio State redshirt senior Parris Campbell thinks he should be one of the best wide receivers in the country this season.

“That’s not me being cocky, that’s not me being bold,” Campbell said. “I’m humbly saying I should, just the skill set that I have.”

After a year in which he said he showed what he could do with the ball in his hands, but considered his play average, Campbell said he wants to be elite, he wants to be the best, but he has some things to improve on.

Success for Campbell, and the veteran receiver room to which he is a part, does not only fall on the shoulders of the players under wide receivers coach Brian Hartline. Redshirt sophomore quarterback Dwayne Haskins, who will make his first collegiate start on Sept. 1 against Oregon State, has a part to play.

Despite having three captains in the receiver room heading into the 2018 season, Haskins is viewed the way the starting quarterback is usually viewed: the offensive leader.

In Campbell’s experience, there is a point when a younger player with high expectations takes a step forward in terms of leadership and growth. For the redshirt senior, he saw that in Haskins during the second week of fall camp.

“Honestly, I can say Dwayne, in that week, even from the beginning, he just wanted to open up, become that leader, and I think that second week is when you actually seen that,” Campbell said. “He took more control in the huddle. He was just more aggressive with his leadership.”

When talking about the new quarterback heading into the season, many conversations start by praising his physical ability. Campbell said Haskins’ deep ball accuracy, as well as the power behind his throws, gives the offense an advantage heading into the season.

However, the receivers realize Haskins is not a mirror image of last season’s quarterback, J.T. Barrett. As a pro-style quarterback, as opposed to a dual-threat option, Haskins brings excitement to the Ohio State offense with just his arm.

“He makes some of those throws that are just crazy,” redshirt senior wide receiver Johnnie Dixon said. “I mean, the guy, he has the talent. He’s just ready to unleash it Sept. 1.”

Receivers are preparing for his deep-throw ability, with Campbell saying the majority of his off-season workouts were focused on getting to and securing downfield passes.

As he ran more reps with the first-team offense, Haskins not only improved his physical ability, but, in the opinion of the wide receiver room, improved his leadership ability and gained confidence both in and out of the huddle.

“It starts with him just getting confidence and that’s him making plays,” Campbell said. “Just in the huddle, being loud over the play calls, being definitive in everything he says and does. I think that’s his style right now, not one of the guys that will get in your face, but one that can take control of the offense.”

Redshirt senior wide receiver Terry McLaurin said he has seen a lot of growth from the redshirt sophomore quarterback over the course of preparing for the 2018 season. In McLaurin’s opinion, Haskins is in that phase of using his physical attributes to become what Ohio State expects out of its starting quarterback.

“He’s come in really gaining that respect from everybody, not only as a player, but as a person. It’s a work in progress,” McLaurin said. “Obviously, he has to translate what he has done in camp to the field, but I’m really impressed from where he started in the summer training now that he’s becoming one of the leaders on the team.”

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