Yesterday Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins announced that he will leave college to participate in the 2019 NFL draft. Haskins is a redshirt sophomore, which means he will be giving up two years of college football eligibility in order to turn pro.
The decision surprised exactly no one. Haskins was the Ohio State starter for only one season, but in that season he shredded the record books, setting new single-season Ohio State marks for attempts, completions, completion percentage, passing yards, and touchdowns and single-season Big Ten records for passing yards and touchdowns. He’s easily the best pure passer and pro-style quarterback the Buckeyes have ever had.
He had a remarkable year, and the experts have graded him accordingly. The NFL Draft Advisory Board, which exists to give college players who are considering leaving school early a sense of where they might go if they stand for the NFL draft, gave Haskins a first-round grade, and he is widely considered to be the best quarterback prospect in the draft and a likely top ten pick.
None of this is a surprise to anyone who follows football. So why am I writing about Dwayne Haskins going to the NFL? Because while his decision was predictable, what’s changed has been the reaction to it. In the past, college football fans used to hold a grudge against players who left early, viewing them as betraying their alma maters to chase the almighty dollar. Now, there may be some people out there who still hold to that view, but the majority have shifted to a different position.
We see how much money professional athletes can make, we know how that kind of money can be life-changing for the athletes and their families, and we also know that, in a sport as violent as football, you never know whether the next play might inflict a gruesome, career-ending injury. As a result, for the most part, fans have come to view decisions to turn pro by high-caliber players like Haskins as a rational, reasonable judgments — even though we’d love to see them continue to perform for our favorite college teams. We get why they don’t want to take a huge risk that they might end up regretting forever. In short, we’ve reached the last stage of the seven stages of grief and have accepted the way the world now works.
So Godspeed, Dwayne Haskins! It was fun watching you play football for the Men of the Scarlet and Gray . . . while it lasted.