Ohio State redshirt sophomore quarterback Dwayne Haskins has watched Trace McSorley for years.
Haskins watched as McSorley, the quarterback at Briar Woods in Ashburn, Virginia, made four straight state championship appearances, winning three straight to start his high school career.
Haskins watched as the three-time state champion became a three-star recruit, committing to Penn State in the 2014 class. Haskins watched as McSorley blossomed on the field for the Nittany Lions, earning the starting quarterback job in 2016.
Now, in McSorley’s redshirt senior season, his final campaign as Penn State’s quarterback, Haskins will have the chance, not just to watch from the sideline, but to play against his friend as the starting quarterback at Ohio State.
“I look forward to every game, but a game like this, it makes everything that much more, you know, worth it,” Haskins said. “Me and Trace used to work out together back in high school, so just having the opportunity to go compete against him blow-for-blow, I’m excited for it.”
With his baseball swing celebrations and his salute to the stands after every touchdown, McSorley has a competitive edge to the way he plays, something Haskins said is fun to watch.
Haskins saw this competitive spirit as a high school quarterback in Potomac, Maryland, watching while he played opponents from Virginia. It was something he wanted to emulate in his own game.
“He’s a competitor, kind of like Baker [Mayfield] is,” Haskins said. “He has that type of personality, you know, competitive edge.”
However, from the moment he stepped on the field against Michigan after former Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett went down with an injury last season, Haskins defined what his leadership style would be as a quarterback.
And it was not in a similar style to McSorley.
“I always feel like that I was a good leader, but as far as speaking and like yelling and all that stuff, that never really was me,” Haskins said. “I just feel like, as a quarterback goes, the offensive line looks to you. When you get hit, you don’t want to act like you have been shaken up, they don’t want to see you be upset. I always wanted to be the even-keeled, calm, cool, collected.”
Through the first four games as Ohio State’s starter, Haskins has shown that cool approach inside the pocket. He has completed 75.7 pass attempts this season, throwing for more than 300 yards in three of the first four games of the 2018 season.
As a different style of quarterback to McSorley, Haskins has shown that different leadership style as well. However, that does not mean Haskins is not confident in himself as a leader for the Ohio State offense through the first four games.
“People know who you are. They can tell whether you are real or fake,” Haskins said. “There’s moments when you have to be fiery, moments you have to yell and there’s moments where you just have to be calm, be cool, be even-keeled. Just having that happy medium is important, I feel like, especially as a quarterback.”
Heading into what many consider his first true road test as a starting quarterback, facing No. 9 Penn State in Happy Valley, Haskins is not looking to become McSorley.
He has the same approach that got him to Ohio State in the first place.
“Whenever I get the opportunity to go play football, it’s just a game, man,” Haskins said. “Have fun.”