The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Dwayne Haskins, former Washington quarterback, dies at 24

Dwayne Haskins, the former Washington quarterback, died at 24. (John McDonnell/The Washington Post)
8 min

Dwayne Haskins, an NFL quarterback whose enticing talent and record-setting collegiate career made him a first-round draft pick, died Saturday morning after being struck by a truck in South Florida. He was 24.

According to a Florida Highway Patrol spokeswoman, Haskins was attempting to cross on foot the westbound lanes of Interstate 595 in Broward County against oncoming traffic when he was struck by a dump truck. The accident was reported at 6:37 a.m. Saturday, and Haskins was pronounced dead on the scene. A traffic homicide investigation remains open, according to the spokeswoman.

Haskins, drafted by Washington in 2019 and signed by Pittsburgh two years later, had been training in Boca Raton, Fla., ahead of organized team activities with the Steelers. Social media posts published as recently as Friday evening showed him on a field alongside teammates Mitchell Trubisky, Najee Harris and Chase Claypool.

“I am devastated and at a loss for words with the unfortunate passing of Dwayne Haskins,” Steelers Coach Mike Tomlin said in a statement Saturday. “He quickly became part of our Steelers family upon his arrival in Pittsburgh and was one of our hardest workers, both on the field and in our community. Dwayne was a great teammate, but even more so a tremendous friend to so many. I am truly heartbroken.”

Death of Dwayne Haskins ‘just devastating’ to former teammates and coaches

Haskins, the 15th overall pick by Washington, played almost two full seasons with the team before he was cut late in the 2020 season after a tumultuous run. He was signed by the Steelers in January 2021 and retained on a restricted free agent tender for the 2022 season, affording him a chance to compete for a backup role following the retirement of longtime starter Ben Roethlisberger.

“I am absolutely heartbroken to hear the news of the passing of Dwayne Haskins Jr.,” Washington Coach Ron Rivera said in a statement. “Dwayne was a talented young man who had a long life ahead of him. This is a very sad time and I am honestly at a loss for words. I know I speak for the rest of our team in saying he will be sorely missed. Our entire team is sending our heartfelt condolences and thoughts and prayers to the Haskins family at this time.”

Washington co-owners Daniel and Tanya Snyder issued a statement saying they were “devastated” by Haskins’s death. “He was a young man with a tremendous amount of potential who had an infectious personality,” they added. “To say we are heartbroken is an understatement.”

Before Haskins became a star at Ohio State University and then a highly touted pro prospect, he was a teenager brimming with possibility. The Highland Park, N.J., native, moved with his family to Gaithersburg, Md., when he was in ninth grade to attend the Bullis School in Potomac. Parents Dwayne Sr. and Tamara Haskins knew their son had a gift and decided the Washington area would be the best spot to nurture his talent as a quarterback.

The family considered multiple schools throughout the D.C. metro area, many noted for their football success. But Haskins chose Bullis, less because of its football program and more because of its academics and its art program, a good fit for his younger sister, Tamia.

“So I’d be able to be there for her every day,” Haskins had said.

Haskins became the sports editor of the school’s student newspaper and the star of its football team as a consensus four-star recruit. He originally committed to the University of Maryland but changed his mind when the Terrapins changed coaches. Enticed by the chance to play for then-Buckeyes coach Urban Meyer, Haskins chose Ohio State, a match that seemed destined years earlier.

When he was 11, he visited the school for the first time wearing a No. 7 Buckeyes jersey and a headband. In a moment captured on video, Haskins told his father: “This is awesome. I’m going to college here.”

Less than a decade later, he was named the Buckeyes’ starting quarterback.

In 2018, after playing only 171 offensive snaps as a redshirt freshman the previous season, Haskins was chosen over Joe Burrow, now a star with the Cincinnati Bengals. The season altered the trajectory of Haskins’s career as he set 28 school records; established Big Ten single-season records for passing yards (4,831), touchdown passes (50) and total offensive yards (4,939); and became a Heisman Trophy finalist.

Despite starting only 14 games for Ohio State, Haskins declared for the NFL draft and was selected by Washington, becoming the third quarterback chosen that year behind the Arizona Cardinals’ Kyler Murray and the New York Giants’ Daniel Jones. Before the draft, Haskins visited the team’s facility and met with coaches and executives, including Daniel Snyder.

“It’s just crazy how small this world is and how you meet somebody and that can change your life,” Haskins said on draft night of his meeting with Snyder. “That’s why I make sure I treat people the way I want to be treated, and I’ve got to do all I can to make sure that I leave a lasting impression on people. I think that’s why Mr. Snyder thought that I was the guy for this franchise.”

Haskins’s tenure in Washington was a roller coaster, starting with that night and culminating with his abrupt release in 2020.

Snyder, whose son also attended Bullis, pushed for the selection of Haskins despite concerns from then-coach Jay Gruden and others in the team’s personnel department. The rookie was cast as the future of the franchise but not entirely embraced by the coaching staff. Gruden was fired early in the 2019 season after an 0-5 start.

When Rivera took over the following year, he declined to name Haskins the starter outright, insisting instead that he prove himself a leader of the team. Late in training camp, Rivera lauded the work Haskins put in during the offseason and appointed him as the lead quarterback.

“There’s a certain aspect of being the face of the franchise in terms of being the starting quarterback that you have to deal with, kind of like being the head coach,” Rivera said at the time. “… He has to carry himself a certain way; he has to deal with on-the-field issues the same way he deals with off-the-field issues. I thought he’s done a great job."

Haskins cycled through Washington’s rotation as a starter and a reserve multiple times that season before he was cut.

In Pittsburgh, Haskins started anew under Tomlin. After a year as the Steelers’ third quarterback behind Roethlisberger and backup Mason Rudolph, Haskins was set to compete for a job in 2022, presumably behind Trubisky.

“We’re excited to see what Dwayne can provide, either from competition, or maybe he evolves as a starter,” Steelers General Manager Kevin Colbert said in January.

Haskins was inactive for all but one game in his first season with the Steelers and had yet to start a game since his finale with Washington. But he believed he could still develop into an NFL starter and viewed the upcoming offseason as another chance to try “put it all together.”

“I want to be a leader,” Haskins said to Pittsburgh media in January. “I want to be a guy people can rely on, on and off the field. I’m more than just a guy who can throw a ball and be talented. I can be an efficient player. I can execute at a high level. I can keep the Steeler way and continue to go on the path we’re trying to go on as far as making playoff runs and going to the Super Bowl.”

Haskins’s sudden death Saturday elicited an outpouring of shock and sadness from former teammates, coaches and many others affiliated with the NFL and Ohio State.

“Struggling to find the words to express how crushing this news is today,” Kevin O’Connell, the former Washington offensive coordinator and current Minnesota Vikings head coach, tweeted. “Dwayne had such a positive energetic outlook on life and always treated people with genuine kindness. So Talented and with so much positive ahead in his life. Thoughts and Prayers to the Haskins Family.”

Steelers linebacker T.J. Watt shared in a tweet his memory of seeing Haskins walk into the Pittsburgh locker room for the first time.

“I could tell he was an upbeat guy,” Watt wrote. “He was always making people smile, never taking life for granted. His impact on me will last a forever.”

Meyer wrote that he was “heartbroken” by the loss of Haskins and offered his thoughts and prayers to Haskins’s family.

“One of the greatest QB’s in Ohio State history, but an even better son, teammate, and friend. God Bless!!” Meyer tweeted.

And Ryan Day, who replaced Meyer as coach of the Buckeyes in 2019, described Haskins’s death as “beyond tragic.”

“For those who knew him closely, he was much more than a great football player,” Day tweeted. “He had a giant heart, old soul and an infectious smile.”

What to read about the NFL

Scores | Stats | Standings | Teams | Transactions | Washington Commanders

The latest: Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-N.Y.), the chairwoman of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, announced that the committee intends to issue a subpoena to compel the testimony of Commanders owner Daniel Snyder.

Exclusive: An employee of Washington’s NFL team accused Snyder of asking for sex, groping her and attempting to remove her clothes, according to legal correspondence obtained by The Post. A team investigation concluded the woman was lying in an attempt to extort Snyder.

Civil suits settled: Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson has reached settlement agreements in 20 of the 24 active civil lawsuits filed against him by women who accused him of sexual misconduct, the attorney for the women announced.

Jerry Brewer: “The Browns were prepared for initial turbulence, but they assumed they were getting Watson at the end of his troubles. Now his disgrace is their disaster.”

Watch football smarter: Gaps | QB protection | Pass routes | Route concepts | Pass coverage