Joe Germaine needed a second. The former Ohio State quarterback was breathing hard after a workout near his home in Arizona. Or maybe it was the topic of conversation that took his breath away?

What do you think of Dwayne Haskins Jr., Joe?

“He has that swagger about him, that confidence and look that is really integral to being a great one,” Germaine said. “The sky is the limit for this kid, not only here but at the next level.”

Football is supposed to be fun, so I thought it would be enjoyable to ring up a few former Ohio State QBs for their opinions on Haskins, who in his first year as a starter already looks like the best pure passer in school history.

Germaine did not disagree. No longer a boy wonder at age 43, the former OSU gunslinger saw Haskins (4,081) break his single-season passing record of 3,330, as well as blow past his mark for most passing yards (330) by a Buckeyes quarterback against Michigan. Haskins threw for 396, and his six touchdown passes against the Wolverines broke Troy Smith’s record of four.

“He seems extremely accurate with the football, which I think is the most important thing, but what I really appreciate is his demeanor,” Germaine said. “To reach your highest ceiling you also have to be a threat to keep the defense honest. Can you pull the ball down and get the short down and distance? He’s showing he can.”

Rex Kern, 69, knows something about succeeding as a running quarterback. A headliner among the Super Sophs in 1968, Kern was a maestro at executing the option. What he saw from Haskins against Michigan — 34 yards on seven carries — and Maryland — 59 yards and three touchdowns on 15 carries — blew him away.

“I jumped out of my chair, thought ‘What is this guy doing?’” Kern said. “It was great. That really opens up things for our running backs.”

Kern, who was a decent passer, marvels at Haskins’ natural abilities.

“The velocity and accuracy and touch are all there,” he said. “It’s amazing to see an Ohio State quarterback (doing this.)”

Haskins is excelling in an era when offenses implement passing packages unheard of when Kern played. Still, the redshirt sophomore is special enough that few other OSU quarterbacks would match what he is doing, regardless of the scheme.

“What I see are his decision-making and his accuracy,” said Kirk Herbstreit, the 49-year-old former Ohio State quarterback and current analyst for ABC/ESPN. “What I’ve seen this year is as good as anything Ohio State has ever had. When he has time to set his feet, and with that quick release, he flicks the ball like a slingshot, and on point.”

Herbstreit is impressed with the way Haskins has energized his personality over the past few weeks. Haskins is never going to be a high-energy motivator like J.T. Barrett, but at least he is showing some fire.

“Early in the year he was a flat-liner, but against Maryland and Michigan he was taking more control,” Herbstreit said. “There was more emotion coming out. He’s fighting for Ohio State.”

Cornelius Greene, 64, nearly choked up when discussing Haskins, who like Greene played high school football in the Washington, D.C., area.

“It’s taken 45 years for another African-American quarterback to come along and wear No. 7,” said Greene, who played for Woody Hayes in the 1970s. “It means a lot. I wanted to be more than the first African-American quarterback at Ohio State. I wanted to be the best ever to play here.”

No disrespect to Corny, but that didn’t happen. It’s up to the other No. 7 to do it. And Haskins is well on his way.

roller@dispatch.com

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