Dwayne Haskins, 24, the backup Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback and a former standout at Ohio State, died Saturday, Steelers Coach Mike Tomlin confirmed in a statement.
According to the Florida Highway Patrol, Haskins was attempting to cross the westbound lanes of Interstate 595 in Fort Lauderdale, when he was struck by a dump truck around 6:37 a.m. He was pronounced dead on the scene.
“I am devastated and at a loss for words with the unfortunate passing of Dwayne Haskins,” Tomlin said in a statement. “He quickly became part of our Steelers family upon his arrival in Pittsburgh and was one of our hardest workers, both on the field and in our community. Dwayne was a great teammate but even more so a tremendous friend to so many. I am truly heartbroken.”
Haskins was a first-round draft pick of the Washington Commanders in 2019, selected at No. 15 overall, after he threw for 4,831 yards and 50 touchdowns in his only year as a starter at Ohio State. In 2018, he finished third in Heisman Trophy voting, behind Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa and Oklahoma’s Kyler Murray, after leading Ohio State to a 13-1 record, including a win in the Rose Bowl against Washington. He completed 70 percent of his passes that season and, at 6-foot-3, was projected to have an N.F.L. future for his accuracy as a pocket passer.
His college coach, Urban Meyer, wrote in a Twitter post that Haskins was “one of the greatest QB’s in Ohio State history, but an even better son, teammate and friend.”
But Haskins struggled in his first two N.F.L. seasons, winning three of his 13 starts in Washington while throwing 12 touchdowns and 14 interceptions, and was benched in favor of Alex Smith. The Commanders released him before the end of the 2020 season because of his performance, and for multiple violations of Covid-19 protocols.
“He was a young man with a tremendous amount of potential who had an infectious personality,” Daniel and Tanya Snyder, the Commanders’ co-owners, said in a statement.
The Steelers signed Haskins in January 2021 as a backup, but he did not play that season. In March, the Steelers re-signed him as a restricted free agent, and Haskins was expected to compete for the starting job with Mason Rudolph and Mitchell Trubisky in training camp. Haskins had been training with teammates last week in Florida. His death sparked an outpouring of support from N.F.L. players on social media.
“When Dwayne walked in to the locker room, I could tell he was an upbeat guy,” Steelers linebacker T.J. Watt wrote in a Twitter post. “He was always making people smile, never taking life for granted. His impact on me will last forever.”