Was Dwayne Haskins, the Washington Redskins’ 2019 first-round NFL draft selection, a prophetic 17-year-old?
“Hopefully RG3 [Robert Griffin III] pans out in DC,” he wrote in his school newspaper in 2015, “but if not expect [the Redskins] to draft another [quarterback] in the next 5 years.”
Well, it’s four years later. Griffin spectacularly did not pan out in Washington. Kirk Cousins didn’t, either.
“We to this day still don’t know why the Skins decided to draft both quarterbacks,” Haskins, the then-sports editor of the Bullis Bulldog newspaper, wrote while previewing the 2016 draft, “but obviously they had a plan.”
That plan didn’t work out, and Redskins executives now are betting on Haskins, the Ohio State quarterback who starred at Bullis School in Potomac — where franchise owner Daniel Snyder’s son is now on the team — as Washington’s missing piece.
For former classmates and teammates, the move was years in the making. Haskins, wittingly or not, saw it coming from a distance too.
“I guess we’re just on the cusp of really seeing what he can do,” said Alex Trippi, a former teammate at Bullis who plays lacrosse at North Carolina. “And I know the people from home know exactly what he can do. They’ve seen it first hand.”
Trippi sat cellphone in hand watching the draft Thursday night, ready to post congratulations online and reminisce with high school friends expecting the New York Giants to take Haskins with the sixth pick.
But New York opted for Duke quarterback Daniel Jones, instead. And then more picks came and went without Haskins’s name getting called. Washington sat at No. 15 in the draft order desperate for a quarterback, as a younger Haskins predicted.
Sure enough, the Redskins couldn’t resist. Haskins will compete with Colt McCoy and Case Keenum for the starting role, and Coach Jay Gruden said he’d be squarely in the running.
“Well, if you’re the 15th pick of the draft, you have to get a shot [to start immediately],” he said.
“We thought that he’d go in the top 10, but he didn’t,” Bullis Coach Pat Cilento said. “The Redskins being the hometown team, he knows where to work out, he knows the community, he knows he can always come home here.”
Before heading to Ohio State, where his 70 percent completion rate and 50 touchdown passes made him a Heisman Trophy finalist, Haskins led Bullis to Interstate Athletic Conference championships in 2013, 2014 and 2015, his sophomore, junior and senior seasons. As a three-year starter, he threw for 3,974 yards and 45 touchdowns.
Bullis had won only two conference championships in school history before the Haskins era. Since, the program has ascended considerably.
“A lot of guys wanted to come to Bullis because he was here,” Cilento said.
He arrived at the Potomac school midway through his freshman year and took over the reins of Bullis’s offense the next season. The impact on the field was immediate. Cilento, a quarterback in his high school days, opened up his offense to let Haskins throw the ball more.
After getting walloped, 42-0, in his first start, Haskins led Bullis to 18 wins in its next 20 games. The final game of his senior season, the conference championship against rival Georgetown Prep, he missed the second quarter with an ankle injury but still threw for 298 yards.
When Bullis needed a defensive stop with less than two minutes to play, Trippi and teammates on defense thought, “If we get him the ball back, we’ll win the championship,” he said.
Haskins led the team 75 yards in 91 seconds and threw the game-winning touchdown pass.
“It was unbelievable,” Cilento said. “We had some good quarterbacks before him, but this guy was the real deal. He was very fine-tuned mechanics-wise. His fundamentals were very good, but what he didn’t have was a lot of experience. But he played 30 games here and went 27-3.”
The scene around Bullis since the Redskins selected Haskins has been equally jubilant. There’s little doubt within the school’s tightknit athletic community Washington chose the right player. Haskins saw it coming, after all.
“I know he’ll be the next franchise quarterback,” Trippi said.
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