FORT LAUDERDALE Dwayne Haskins was working on a second chapter in his NFL career. The 24-year-old quarterback has been spending time with some of his Pittsburgh Steelers teammates, getting ready to compete for a starting job.
That’s when his life was cut short.
Haskins was killed early Saturday morning when he was hit by a dump truck while traveling on a South Florida highway. Florida Highway Patrol spokeswoman Lt. Indiana Miranda said Haskins was pronounced dead at the scene.
“He was trying to cross the western lanes of Interstate 595 when there was oncoming traffic,” Miranda said in an emailed statement.
Miranda did not say why Haskins was on the highway at the time. The accident caused the highway to be closed for several hours, and Miranda said it was an “open investigation into a traffic homicide.”
Haskins was selected in the 2019 first round by Washington, and the team released him after moving 3-10 over two seasons. He was signed by Pittsburgh as the QB Development Player, but did not appear in last season’s game.
Haskins appears to have been in South Florida this week with several of his teammates, including fellow quarterback Mitch Trubesky, running back Nagy Harris and tight end Pat Freermouth.
Haskins’ death sparked an outpouring of grief from many corners of the NFL, particularly from his former teammates with the Steelers and leaders.
“I am devastated and at a loss for words at the passing of Dwayne Haskins,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said. “He quickly became part of the Steelers family upon his arrival in Pittsburgh and was one of our most dedicated workers, both on the field and in our community. Dwayne was a great teammate, but a great friend to so many. I am really heartbroken.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife, Calabria, and all his family during this difficult time.”
Washington coach Ron Rivera said he was “very sad” when he learned of Haskins’ death.
“Dwayne was a talented young man with a long life ahead of him,” Rivera said in a statement. “This is a very sad time and I am frankly at a loss. I know I speak for the rest of our team in saying he will be sorely missed. Our entire team sends our heartfelt condolences, thoughts and prayers to the Haskins family at this time.”
Ohio State posted a photo of Haskins on its Twitter account, captioning it, “Leader. Legend. Forever Buckeye.”
At Ohio, Haskins set one-season records for 50-yard touchdowns and 4,831 passes. It was the 2019 Rose Bowl MVP where the Buckeyes went 13-1.
Ohio State coach Ryan Day, who was the quarterback coach during Haskins’ final season in school, called Haskins’ death “beyond tragic.”
“To those who knew him intimately, he was more than just a great footballer,” Day wrote on Twitter. “He had a giant heart, an old soul, and an infectious smile. The Ohio community and the entire football program feel sad.”
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The Steelers gave Haskins a chance to revive his career in January 2021 when they signed him a month after he was released by Washington. Humbled by the decision, Haskins emphasized that he was keen to work hard and absorb as much of Ben Roethlisberger and Mason Rudolph as possible.
Haskins made the list at number three but only wore clothes once, and was a reserve in a draw with Detroit after Roethlisberger was put on COVID-19 protocol the night before the game.
Steelers star TJ Watt posted on Twitter, “Today the world lost a great person.” “When Dwayne first walked into the locker room, I could tell he was an upbeat guy. He always made people smile, and he doesn’t take life at all.”
Both Tomlin and general manager Kevin Colbert have praised Haskins for his improvement since joining the team, and the Steelers re-signed him to a one-year deal as a restricted free agent in March. He was expected to compete with Rudolf and Trubsky at training camp.
“Dwayne meant so much to so many people,” Steelers defensive lineman Cameron Heyward wrote on Twitter. “His smile was contagious and he was a guy you want to be around. We are all in shock at losing him. We will miss him too. We lost you way too soon. Luckily I had the chance to get to know you. RIP DH.”
ESPN was the first to report Haskins’ death.
“Devastating,” Rudolph said on social media.
“Thinker. Wannabe twitter lover. Entrepreneur. Food fan. Total communicator. Coffee specialist. Web evangelist. Travel fanatic. Gamer.”