BEAVERTON, Ore. — Dwayne Haskins, a four-star quarterback prospect at The Bullis School in Potomac, Md., has been crafting relationships with similarly desired recruits for years, at football camps from middle school through high school, ranging from the East Coast through the southern tip of California.
And so it came as no surprise to find more than a dozen college prospects from nearby schools scattered among the crowd at Haskins’ commitment announcement in May, each drawn to a local product whose verbal pledge carried significant weight in the Washington area.
Those programs angling for his signature – Maryland, Rutgers, Penn State, Florida — knew the score: Haskins was more than just an impact recruit — he was potentially an impact recruiter.
“People-wise, everybody loves him,” said Bullis coach Pat Cilento. “They’re attracted to him. People want to come play with a guy with his talent.”
Haskins picked Maryland, attracted to its location and the opportunity to place his stamp on a program entering its second season as a member of the Big Ten Conference. With one choice — and one tweet, shared nearly 1,000 times on Twitter — Haskins didn’t merely give Maryland one difference-making prospect; he gave the Terrapins a shot at a handful of others.
“There are guys I’ve built relationships with,” Haskins said. “I feel as though if we play together we can do something special. Especially guys in the area that I’m really close with. If we all went to the same school together we can have the same impact, like people did at Miami (Fla.) in the 1980s.”
Quarterbacks such as Haskins are committing earlier and earlier all across the highest level of the Football Bowl Subdivision, opting to end the recruiting process ahead of their senior seasons rather than prolonging the course deep into national signing day. Of the 18 quarterbacks participating in this week’s Elite 11 competition in Beaverton, Ore., just two have yet to make a verbal commitment.
These high-tier prospects are viewed as tent-pole recruits for FBS programs, nearly always serving as the foundation and calling card of an entire signing class. They are recruits until they commit; afterward, as with Haskins, they turn into de facto assistant coaches, using their phones and social media to recruit other prospects still in the process of making their college choice.
“Usually the quarterback is the anchor of the class, and they’ve got to bring it all together towards the end,” said San Juan Hills (Calif.) quarterback Patrick O’Brien, who has verbally committed to Nebraska. “They’ve got to be the main people in the class.”
And they get help from their future coaches. Nebraska coaches have messaged O’Brien, asking him to follow recruits on Twitter and craft a relationship; that paid dividends with a tight end who recently committed to the Cornhuskers, O’Brien said.
Michigan coaches, led by Jim Harbaugh, gave Avon (Ind.) quarterback Brandon Peters a list of players they wanted the four-star prospect to contact, all on the offensive side of the ball. Shane Buechele, a Texas commit, gets names from quarterbacks coachShawn Watson.
“They tell me some guys to go after and I know some guys to go after, some local guys that are interested in the University of Texas,” Buechele said. “I just let them know how good of a school Texas is.”