Minutes after he announced his verbal commitment Friday afternoon to Maryland, Dwayne Haskins Jr. was asked about his cellphone.
As the unofficial ringleader of “The Movement,” an ever-building push by Maryland coaches and recruits alike to attract the state’s best prospects in the Class of 2016 to College Park, surely the Bullis junior quarterback had heard from fellow stars. Surely some fellow top-tier recruits had reached out. He had, after all, prefaced his announcement with a list of 20 players, all top recruits, with whom he hoped to play in college.
But whatever text messages and phone calls he got — and recruiting analysts and Maryland coaches have to believe it’s a lot — Haskins missed. His phone was on “Do Not Disturb” mode; his post-pledge message, announced live on ESPN.com, would have to suffice.
“If you’re listening to this, it’s too late,” said Haskins, rated the No. 61 overall prospect in the nation and the fifth-best pro-style quarterback by 247Sports.com. “ ‘The Movement’ is in full effect.”
Haskins, who chose Maryland over offers from Rutgers and Florida, among dozens others, is seen as a lynchpin in a recruiting class that already includes two other four-star, in-state recruits: DeMatha wide receiver Darryl Turner and Good Counsel linebacker Keandre Jones. At Bullis for Haskins’ announcement, along with nearly a hundred students, was four-star Avalon School athlete and close friend Trevon Diggs, the younger brother of former Terps wide receiver Stefon Diggs, who also is considering Maryland and a glut of national powers.
“They want to be around him,” Bullis coach Pat Cilento said of Haskins, who after throwing for 1,936 yards, 22 touchdowns and just five interceptions last season was named Maryland Gatorade Player of the Year. “He’s been great at attracting talent to Bullis. He’s a great leader, and I expect that to continue.”
Haskins spent most of his childhood in New Jersey, moving to Maryland during his freshman year, and his mother, Tamara, is a Rutgers alumna. On Friday, he called himself New Jersey-born and “DMV-made.” But those close to him said the chance to play close to home, and the relationships he developed with Maryland coaches Randy Edsall, Mike Locksley and Chad Wilt, ultimately won out.
“I think he really feels comfortable here, and I know he wants to be close to home,” Tamara Haskins said. “I believe that they really treated him like a son.”
Haskins, at 6 feet 3, 198 pounds, likened himself to former Louisville and current Minnesota Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. Cilento mentioned Kevin Hogan, who played at nearby Gonzaga (D.C.) and went on to Stanford. Both are prototypical pocket passers blessed with the mobility to revive a play otherwise left for dead. And for all of Haskins’ accomplishments throwing the ball, one of his coach’s favorite memories is a running touchdown.
During a game against Avalon School last season, Bullis ran a read play five or six times in a row. Haskins could give the ball to the running back, throw a screen or keep it himself. Every time, Cilento said, he made the right read. That includes the series' final play, when Haskins busted loose for a 40-plus-yard touchdown, juking two defenders along the way to paydirt.
“Great football player,” Cilento said, “and an even better person.”
With Caleb Rowe and Perry Hills set to graduate after the 2016 season, Haskins could start under center early in his career. Shane Cockerille (Gilman) and incoming recruit Gage Shaffer also will vie for the job, but Ryan Bartow, national college football recruiting analyst for 247Sports.com, offered a prediction for Haskins’ place on the depth chart when he arrives in 2016: He’ll be atop it.
“I fully expect him to be the starter as a true freshman,” he said.
Until then, Bartow said, Haskins will do just fine as an unpaid pitchman.
“In a best-case scenario every year, you want your quarterback … to be one of, if not the, ringleader in the class,” he said. “He’s a guy that’s on social media a lot. He’s a guy that knows a lot of players from Jersey on down to Virginia. He’s a big name. So he’s a guy who could potentially have a ripple effect.”
For proof, Haskins need only look at his phone.