Top QBs Haskins, Tagovailoa friendly rivals

Tim May
Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins Jr. says he keeps in touch with his Alabama counterpart, Tua Tagovailoa. "We talk every week," Haskins said. (Eric Albrecht)

Talk about two friends having the time of their life and riding high at the moment …

Dwayne Haskins Jr. of third-ranked Ohio State leads the nation in touchdown passes with 25 and is sixth in passing yards per game (319.8 average). Tua Tagovailoa of top-ranked Alabama leads the nation in passing efficiency with an astronomical 285.4 rating, boosted by his 18 TD passes vs. zero interceptions and astounding 75.2 completion percentage.

Haskins says there is “no competition” between the two.

“But ‘How do you go 10 for 13 for 300 yards?’ ” he said he asked Tagovailoa after his game against Arkansas last week in which he actually threw for 334 yards and four TDs. “He was like, ‘I don’t know.’ That’s pretty cool. I wish I could do that one of these games this year.”

But then, Haskins threw for 455 yards — three short of Art Schlichter’s school record set 37 years ago — and a school record-tying six TD passes in the Ohio State win over Indiana on the same day.

That explains why, roughly halfway through the regular season, Tagovailoa and Haskins generally are considered the top two candidates — in that order — for the Heisman Trophy. The latest odds from show Tagovailoa as the 2-3 favorite, with Haskins No. 2 at 9-2.

>>Video: Haskins reveals he and 'Bama's Tagovailoa are friends

National college football writer Pat Forde said earlier this week that Tagovailoa is running away with it at the moment, in his opinion, but he has Haskins in second. Dennis Dodd of told The Dispatch on Tuesday that he would put Haskins third behind Tagovailoa and Oklahoma QB Kyler Murray because “what they are doing is otherworldly.”

But he, too, has been caught up by the show put on so far by Haskins, off to the best passing start in OSU history.

“He spins it better than any OSU QB I’ve ever seen,” Dodd said. “He would be my No.1 QB choice in the (2019) NFL draft. I have nothing bad to say about him.”

The same goes for an ESPN personality that Ohio State fans love to hate, Paul Finebaum, who told The Dispatch he has Haskins “easily No. 2 behind Tua. Haskins has been exceptional and has led what is clearly the most serious challenger to Alabama.”

Haskins, always polite, revealed Tuesday after practice that knows where he stands in the grand scheme headed toward Saturday’s home game with Minnesota.

“I think I’m paying attention to it, I’m aware of it … (but) it’s not my main focus right now,” Haskins said of the Heisman hype. “My main focus is every day getting better so I can be in that conversation the rest of the season.”

But he appreciates the attention.

“Definitely, it’s a credit to the hard work we did together as a team,” Haskins said. “It’s a blessing to be considered with those guys, really great quarterbacks. We’re all pretty cool with each other.”

Of his relationship with Tagovailoa, Haskins said, “We talk every week.”

Though Tagovailoa is from Hawaii and Haskins from Maryland, their relationship was fostered by them attending the same Elite 11 quarterback camps in high school. And as Haskins said, they have stayed current.

“We sent each other scriptures before the game on Saturday, you know, sending our blessings to each other,” Haskins said. “So he did a great job last week.”

And halfway through the regular season, they — and their teams — seem to be on a collision course, one way or another.


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