After one season as the starter for Ohio State, redshirt sophomore quarterback Dwayne Haskins is wrapping up his career as a Buckeye.
On Monday, Haskins announced he will be entering the 2019 NFL Draft, finishing his collegiate career with 5,396 passing yards and 58 total touchdowns.
The vast majority of those numbers came in his second year, during which he threw for 4,831 yards and 50 touchdowns, breaking single-season Big Ten records for total yards and total touchdowns and finishing third in Heisman voting.
“I want to be one of the best to ever do it when I get done playing here at this university,” Haskins said.
So was he?
After breaking every single-season passing record the program had to offer, it seems impossible to deny he is one of the best. But did he have the best season of any quarterback in the program’s history?
When looking at the statistics and accolades, two seasons, both of which came this century, stand as the major competition.
Troy Smith, 2006
Smith’s final year at Ohio State is the clear main competition. He was the first Buckeye quarterback to win the Heisman since 1944, and he did it by earning the second-highest percentage of the votes ever.
In 2006, Smith led Ohio State to a 12-1 record, losing in the national championship game to Florida. He threw for 2,542 yards and 30 touchdowns with six interceptions while rushing for 204 yards and a touchdown.
Against No. 2 Michigan, Smith threw for 316 yards and four touchdowns to win 42-39 and advance to the national championship.
Haskins comes out dramatically ahead in statistics, nearly doubling the amount of passing yards and touchdowns Smith earned, and doing so in only one more game.
But there’s a reason Smith earned 91.63 percent of the total votes for the Heisman race that season: He found a way to win the games he needed to.
That of course ended against Florida, but his run through the regular season went unscathed, something Haskins wasn’t able to accomplish, even with a 470-yard performance against Purdue.
J.T. Barrett, 2014
Stepping in for Braxton Miller, who tore his labrum in a preseason practice, then-redshirt freshman J.T. Barrett did not have high expectations from fans.
They were even lower after his second collegiate start, during which he completed 9-of-29 passes with a touchdown and three interceptions in the loss to Virginia Tech.
But Barrett’s season after the defeat is one of the most impressive runs the program has seen.
Barrett earned more than 300 yards in seven of his next nine starts, winning each of those games and putting his team in position to defeat Michigan after he went down with an injury that ended his season.
Cardale Jones finished off the run that gave Ohio State the first College Football Playoff title, but in 12 games, Barrett threw for 2,834 yards, ran for 938 and combined for 45 total touchdowns with 10 interceptions.
The world will never know if Barrett would have been able to lead the Buckeyes to the title like Jones, and that counts against considering it to be the best single-season performance by a quarterback. But the season leading up to the finish remains one of Ohio State’s best.
Dwayne Haskins, 2018
So where does that leave Haskins?
He has the statistics to easily be considered the best. Of all quarterbacks in the program’s history, Haskins has more passing yards in one season by more than 1,500 and more passing touchdowns by 15.
He has six of the top seven games for most passing yards, led Ohio State to a Rose Bowl win and a 13-1 record.
Stats aren’t everything, and Smith’s campaign in 2006 proves that. Though his numbers don’t pop off the page as much, he led the Buckeyes to a national championship and was voted the top player in college football that season.
Barrett’s numbers are more comparable to Haskins’ when looking at total yards and total touchdowns, and he did it in two fewer games.
But Barrett’s broken ankle during the Michigan game gave Jones the chance to complete the historic run, and that will always diminish Barrett’s legacy, making it difficult to choose as the best season any quarterback has ever had for Ohio State.
The statistics suggest Haskins had the greatest season by a quarterback in Ohio State history. The accolades lean more toward Smith.
Regardless, in only one season as a starter, Haskins leaves the program as one of the greats, fulfilling what he knew he was capable of doing since the age of 10.
Only time will tell if he will be remembered as an all-time great, or the all-time great at the school for which he always dreamed of playing.
“I knew I was gonna be the guy,” Haskins said on Dec. 1. “I always wanted to come to school here at 10 years old. I knew I was gonna be a quarterback here, knew we were gonna do great things this year, and that’s me birthing it into existence.”