First-year starter waited, then broke Buck­eye records

San Francisco Chronicle Late Edition - - FOOTBALL - By Mitch Stacy Mitch Stacy is an As­so­ci­ated Press writer.

COLUM­BUS, Ohio — It was sub­tle, but that def­i­nitely was the Heis­man Tro­phy pose that Dwayne Hask­ins struck in the end zone after throw­ing his fifth touch­down pass in the Big Ten cham­pi­onship game last week­end.

It wasn’t quite the hey-lookat-me, Desmond Howard ver­sion, but it was an un­mis­tak­able Heis­man stiff-arm, high-leg stance, even if just for a sec­ond.

“I wasn’t plan­ning it,” Hask­ins said. “I felt it was the right mo­ment for me to do that. I tried to be low key with it, but that didn’t work. It wasn’t a full-on Heis­man pose, but it’s a cool pic­ture to have one day.”

Why not? The Ohio State quar­ter­back has put up Heis­man-wor­thy num­bers, bro­ken records and led his team to a 12-1 mark in a tu­mul­tuous sea­son that will end with a trip to the Rose Bowl — two spots out­side the Col­lege Foot­ball Play­off. The other two fi­nal­ists, quar­ter­backs Tua Tago­v­ailoa of Alabama and Kyler Mur­ray of Ok­la­homa, led their teams to play­off berths.

The prize will be awarded Satur­day night.

Hask­ins has thrown for 4,580 yards and 47 touch­downs, lead­ing the na­tion in both cat­e­gories. He broke 11 Big Ten and Ohio State sin­gle-sea­son records. He’s tied for 10th all-time for pass­ing touch­downs in a sin­gle sea­son in NCAA his­tory. He is the Big Ten of­fen­sive player of the year and the MVP of the con­fer­ence cham­pi­onship game.

After start­ing 12 games as a col­lege quar­ter­back, many ex­pect Hask­ins to en­ter the NFL draft, where he could be a firstround pick.

Be­hind Hask­ins, Ohio State sported a pass-first of­fense after four years of quar­ter­back J.T. Bar­rett run­ning for first downs. Then, late in the sea­son, Hask­ins showed he could put his head down and run the ball ef­fec­tively when he had to.

“The quar­ter­back’s dream is to sit back and pick a de­fense apart,” Hask­ins said. “I gave coach (Ur­ban) Meyer the con­fi­dence to do that. I gave coach (Ryan) Day and coach (Kevin) Wil­son an op­por­tu­nity to call great plays for me and ex­e­cute them. We just had a whole bunch of fun this year.”

Hask­ins, who played high school foot­ball in Po­tomac, Md., is one of the best throw­ers ever to wear an Ohio State uni­form. In the past two games, against ri­val Michi­gan in the reg­u­larsea­son fi­nale and North­west­ern in the con­fer­ence cham­pi­onship game, Hask­ins threw for a com­bined 895 yards and 11 touch­downs.

“That’s one of the best per­for­mances in the last two weeks in col­lege foot­ball his­tory,” Meyer de­clared.

Just as im­por­tant to Meyer — who will re­tire after his team plays in the Rose Bowl Jan. 1 — is the will­ing­ness Hask­ins showed to tuck the ball and run for tough yards down the stretch.

“How do you mea­sure a quar­ter­back? Ob­vi­ously, wins. But can he get and will he get the first down for you?” said Meyer, who had promised to fly Hask­ins to New York if his quar­ter­back wasn’t cho­sen as a Heis­man fi­nal­ist.

Like Bar­rett, his pre­de­ces­sor, Hask­ins showed poise be­yond his years whether the of­fense was click­ing or not.

“I think the big­gest thing about Dwayne is he never gets too high and he never gets too low,” se­nior wide re­ceiver Par­ris Camp­bell said. “He’s al­ways poised.”

Hask­ins said he knows Tago­v­ailoa and Mur­ray well from prep quar­ter­back cir­cles and con­sid­ers them friends.

“Quar­ter­backs, we all are the al­pha males, and we all com­pete against each other at all the camps, and we all know about one an­other,” Hask­ins said. “Kyler com­ing out of high school was the best quar­ter­back in the coun­try. Tua was like a god. And to be able to be in the same con­ver­sa­tion with them makes me feel like I put the work in to be con­sid­ered the best quar­ter­back in the coun­try. I have much re­spect for those guys.”

Hask­ins said he first heard of the Heis­man Tro­phy while play­ing the NCAA Foot­ball video game as a kid. He’d al­ways choose to be No. 7, the Ohio State quar­ter­back, and he’d win the bronze stat­uette ev­ery time.

“We’ll see how re­al­is­tic that is this week,” he said.

Kyle Robert­son / Colum­bus Dis­patch

Ohio State QB Dwayne Hask­ins Jr. is the Big Ten of­fen­sive player of the year and the MVP of the Big Ten ti­tle game.

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