Oklahoma's Murray wins Heisman; Buckeyes' Dwayne Haskins Jr. third

Bill Rabinowitz

NEW YORK — Dwayne Haskins Jr. did not win the Heisman Trophy on Saturday night, finishing third behind winner Kyler Murray of Oklahoma and runner-up Tua Tagovailoa of Alabama.

The Ohio State quarterback received 783 voting points — Murray had 2,167 and Tagovailoa 1,871— as the first Buckeyes finalist since Troy Smith won the award in 2006.

But as much as Haskins would have liked to have won the most prestigious award in college football, that’s not his ultimate priority. His family instilled more important values in him.

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At an interview Saturday morning with The Dispatch, Haskins’ parents and 17-year-old sister, Tamia, discussed their strong family bond and how football is secondary in their priorities.

“Most (football) parents out there become very obsessed with trying to go to the professional level,” said Haskins’ father, Dwayne Sr. “We’re just not really interested in that. It’s day by day, week by week, year by year. It’s about developing as a person and what you can contribute back to society. You use football as the vehicle to help inspire other people.”

Tamara and Dwayne Sr. weren’t athletes themselves and didn’t particularly care about sports. Dwayne was the kind of young boy who would rather play Pokemon. It was only when they would pick up Dwayne from football camps and he had won another award did they think he might be destined to be a special player.

Even as Haskins’ talent became obvious, his family kept sports in perspective. When the family moved from New Jersey to Gaithersburg, Maryland, and Dwayne enrolled at the Bullis School, it wasn’t for its football program, superb as it is. It was for the college preparatory school’s academics and because it offered a strong program in theater, which is Tamia’s passion.

Dwayne Sr. is an entrepreneur in the entertainment industry working with Christian and gospel artists. Tamara is a certified public account and financial adviser. The family’s foundation is a strong Christian faith.

“Dwayne understands what his role is,” Dwayne Sr. said. “He’s a servant. He’s a distributor. He’s a disciple of God, and he wants to inspire other people to believe in themselves to believe they can fulfill their goals and dreams.”

Tamara told the story of Dwayne’s birthday in third grade, when he invited about 10 friends for a pool party at his house. One of the 10, unbeknownst to his parents, was a special-needs classmate.

“It just showed that he doesn’t really care about being ‘popular,’ if you will,” Tamara said. “It was important for him to make this kid feel a part of the group. In fact, Dwayne played with him most of the time in the house because the kid didn’t feel comfortable outside. It just shows his character.”

Dwayne Jr. and Tamia are exceptionally close. He takes as much delight in her theatrical performances as she does in his football.

“My favorite story is when I was in ‘Hairspray’ at school,” said Tamia, who will attend the Savannah (Georgia) College of Art and Design next year. “All I remember is after I sang, ‘I Know Where I’ve Been,’ when I got off the stage, everybody was telling me my brother was cheering, ‘That’s my sister!’ I’m like, ‘Dwayne you’re not supposed to do that.’ ”

The siblings describe each other more as best friends than brother and sister.

“From Day 1, we’ve always supported each other,” Dwayne Jr. said, “whether it was my dreams or my sister’s dreams or my parents. We’re always there for each other, no matter the circumstances. That’s what I want to have with my (own) family someday.”

Haskins worked hard to achieve the success he had at Ohio State this season. But he doesn’t want to be defined only by his sport.

“I always say football is what I do, not who I am,” Haskins said. “Whether I get hurt tomorrow, God forbid, I feel I’ll be successful with whatever I do in life.”

So while Haskins didn’t win college football’s biggest prize on Saturday, it was hard to be too disappointed, especially with his family in New York to share the weekend.

“It was a lot of fun for them to be here supporting me,” Dwayne Jr. said. “We’ve been at it for a long time now and gone through a lot of trials and tribulations to get here. To see the smile on their face, win or lose, makes me happy.”


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