LANDOVER — It was a third and eight from the 45-yard line with under two minutes to go in the first half. The stadium might have been half-empty; it was only a preseason game on Aug. 15, not worth anything in the grand scheme of things, but for Dwayne Haskins, it meant something.
It was something that Haskins has done endless times in the area. Drop back, step up in the pocket and fire-off a pass, deep down the field for a touchdown. Like so many times before, this one, too, was in front of family. But unlike the others this was a first for Haskins — his first touchdown pass as a Washington Redskin.
It has been a long journey for the Bullis graduate turned Ohio State Buckeye turned Washington Redskins draft pick, and last Thursday was a bit of a homecoming for a local kid.
While the Redskins lost another preseason game, 23-13, to the Cincinnati Bengals, its significance was not lost on Haskins.
“I had fun, man; it was good to be home. My parents came to the game. It was good to see them, and it was great to be back,” Haskins said.
Haskins’ NFL journey began just about 30 miles away from FedExField. On April 25, the first day of the NFL Draft, Haskins received a call from the Redskins. Instead of gathering at the NFL Draft in Nashville, Tennessee, as many projected first-round picks do, Haskins opted for a private party, with friends and family at Bowlmor Lanes in Gaithersburg.
Bullis is one of many local-private school powers in the Washington-Metropolitan Area. While it may routinely produce local talent, the list of Bullis alumni turned NFL stars are fewer in comparison with the likes of schools such as DeMatha and Good Counsel.
Haskins is perhaps the most notable football player to come out of the Potomac private school, something that his former head coach has taken note of. When asked about Haskins, Pat Cilento, who coached him at Bullis, had to quickly correct himself, as he suddenly remembered that Haskins was no longer the kid he coached in high school.
“Having a great person like Dwayne, a great ambassador for Bullis which really helps us,” Cilento said. “And he’ll be with the Redskins, the local team, and he gives us more exposure, which really helps us as well.”
Originally from New Jersey, Haskins moved to Potomac before enrolling at the Bullis School. Haskins starred at Bullis, earning offers from the likes of Michigan, Oklahoma, Notre Dame, Alabama and Maryland. While many hoped the Montgomery County quarterback would stay local, Haskins ultimately opted for Ohio State.
Before leaving to start his college career, Haskins was Bullis’ star. In his high school career, he threw for over 5,000 passing yards and scored 54 touchdowns. The duo of Cilento and Haskins won three straight Interstate Athletic Conference Championships (IAC) from 2013-2015.
While many speculate whether Haskins is ready for the NFL just yet, his former coach at Ohio State, Urban Meyer, said Haskins is one of the most talented players he’s coached, including another Redskins quarterback, Alex Smith, who Meyer coached at Utah.
“Dwayne Haskins is the most accurate passer I’ve had, and that includes Alex Smith and some other great players that I’ve had,” Meyer said. “He only played one year; however his accuracy, his arm strength, they’re all NFL-style.”
Haskins had a first last Thursday. While he got significant playing time in the Redskins first preseason game against the Cleveland Browns, Haskins recorded his first professional touchdown pass in the game at home against the Bengals.
Haskins, who is often even-keeled, let a little emotion out after his first touchdown pass – a 55-yard touchdown pass to Robert Davis – who skipped down the field to celebrate with his teammates. He finished the game going 7 for 14 for 114 passing yards and threw no interceptions.
“I saw Dwyane throw it up and I used my speed to get past the defense and we were able to connect for a big-time touchdown,” Davis said. “He did a great job of giving me a chance to go make a play for the team.”
Being his first action at his new home stadium, Haskins noticed many number 7 jerseys in the stands, but jokingly conceded that probably was the jersey of Super Bowl quarterback Joe Theismann, not himself.
“I was hyped. I don’t really get too excited too often, but I threw a touchdown pass; I let it go a little bit,” Haskins said.
Another Redskins number 7 was at the game, in the booth, and Theismann could not help but notice Haskins’ joy after making the pass.
“What a wonderful job Dwayne Haskins did on that one,” Theismann said during the Redskins television broadcast. “That’s exciting. He has to be on top of the world right now.”