Dwayne Haskins said he has always had a natural throwing ability. He said he has an eye to see open receivers, find them on routes and put the ball in the proper spots, over the defensive back, for easy catches.
The only thing he had to adjust over time was the speed of the players to whom he was throwing.
“I was throwing to lacrosse kids in high school, so now I am throwing to 4.2, 4.3 [40-yard-dash-time] receivers and they are moving,” Haskins said.
In the comfort of the Woody Hayes Athletic Center, Haskins had an opportunity to throw to those 4.3 receivers one last time, reminding those in attendance what the Heisman finalist did with Terry McLaurin, Johnnie Dixon and Parris Campbell this past season and providing a preview of what each could bring to the next level.
Haskins has always seen the ability of each of his three redshirt senior receivers, complimenting their speed, catch radius and jumping ability.
And after the trio accounted for 47.7 percent of Ohio State’s total receiving yards on the season, Haskins continued to show that off, consistently hitting McLaurin and Dixon starting with 10-yard slant routes to 30-yard post routes to 40-yard streaks into the endzone.
Campbell missed the majority of the workout after slipping on a cut.
This is something Ohio State head coach Ryan Day has gotten used to: watching who many consider to be a top 10 pick throwing to three receivers whose draft stock has steadily increased since their final game with the Buckeyes.
“Dwayne threw the way Dwayne throws. Our receivers caught the way they caught and you just saw Terry McLaurin and Johnnie, and those guys work hard to catch the ball and run really fast,” Day said. “That’s what practice looked like, that’s what routes on air look like and that’s what it looked like today.”
It’s a relationship that was not defined immediately. McLaurin, Dixon and Campbell already had developed a rapport with J.T. Barrett, a dual-threat quarterback who utilized his legs in a way Haskins likely never will.
But Haskins only had one requirement for the receivers he threw to: Run every route like it’s a live game, using the speed receivers would use to get open in game action in practice.
With this mentality, Haskins’ relationship with the trio bloomed.
“They got more confidence in me as the season went on, as camp went on that I would be able to put it anywhere on the field, and we had a great time this year,” Haskins said.
To Campbell, that level of comfort created a platform for Haskins to not only be successful but to lead.
“Some people it comes natural to. Some people, they have to work at it. He’s a guy that works at it,” Campbell said at the Rose Bowl. “He’s been an unbelievable teammate, unbelievable leader and a great quarterback for us.”
Day, a former NFL quarterbacks coach, might have been looking at Haskins, Campbell, Dixon and McLaurin like a scout as they gave their best reps in front of representatives from all 32 teams after the months spent preparing for the draft.
In his first season as the Ohio State head coach, Day was instead looking at lost production, a quarterback and three receivers he won’t be able to utilize next season.
But what Haskins and the receivers did in the passing game will be something the head coach can use to build the program’s future.
“For recruits to see the way he’s been developed and the way our pass game is developing, not just at quarterback, but also at receiver,” Day said. “Just to see that stuff go on the field this year, the way we threw the ball — second in the nation in throwing the football — we are proud of that.”
Day said he was proud of the way all three receivers put work into the program, saying he was one of many commending Dixon, McLaurin and Campbell on their collegiate career.
It was the last official workout for all four, but the quarterback did what he always did with his receivers.
That was not Haskins’ focus, saying it will probably hit him later. But he said it was a lot of fun, creating one of the best passing offenses in the span of one season.
For one final time, the quarterback huddled up with his receivers. He said it was their last chance to define their future in an Ohio State uniform.
“As we prayed before we went out there, we said it was the last opportunity,” Haskins said. “Just make the most of it and it was a great feeling to be able to go out there today and spin the rock for the last time.”
Going out onto the practice field at the WHAC just like the many times the four had before, that’s exactly what they did.