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NY Giants reporter Art Stapleton reflects on 2018 season.
Amy Newman, NorthJersey

Dwayne Haskins has made no secret of the fact that he’s been a fan of the New York Giants for a while.

If the Giants prove to be fans of Haskins, the Ohio State quarterback could be in position to emerge as Eli Manning’s successor three months from now.

Haskins is leaving Ohio State and declaring for the 2019 NFL Draft, and currently he is viewed as the top quarterback prospect in the Class of 2019. Which, of course, would put him in the mix for the Giants, who hold the No. 6 pick in next April’s first round.

Haskins posted the following statement on social media Monday: “Buckeye Nation, I would like to thank you for everything. You have made this experience a blessing. As a young kid, I had dreams of playing at The Ohio State since the age of 10 years old. God has blessed me with an opportunity to go achieve another dream. The NFL. After many thoughts and prayers with family and close friends, I have decided to declare for the 2019 NFL Draft. To my coaches, teammates and friends that I’ve made at this prestigious university, THANK YOU! To Buckeye Nation, what an unbelievable experience. I love this university and will support it for the rest of my life.”

Haskins, 21, was born and raised in Highland Park, New Jersey – about 35 miles from MetLife Stadium and the Giants’ training facility – before his family moved to Maryland prior to high school.

The 6-foot-3, 220-pounder started only one season at Ohio State, setting a Big Ten record with 50 touchdown passes while completing 70 percent of his passes this past season. In what turned out to be his final game, Haskins led the Buckeyes to a 28-23 victory over Washington in the Rose Bowl. He completed 25-of-37 passes for 251 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions, and displayed a decisive trigger and good decision making in a near flawless performance.

A Heisman Trophy finalist, Haskins finished third behind winner Kyler Murray of Oklahoma and Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa. In speaking with reporters in December just hours before the Heisman ceremony, Haskins revealed the depths of his Giants fandom.

“Big Giants fan, went to all of Amani Toomer’s camps growing up. Tiki Barber, Eli Manning, Jeremy Shockey, Antonio Pierce, Osi Umenyiora, Michael Strahan – I can go on and on,” Haskins said. “But, I definitely was a big Giants fan growing up. Loved watching them, and seeing Saquon [Barkley], how well he’s playing, I’m close friends with him, known him since I was a sophomore in high school, and it’s been really cool watching him playing.”

Could the Giants pair Haskins with Barkley as back-to-back first round selections from Big Ten powerhouses within an offense that features star wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., Sterling Shepard and Evan Engram, among others? That’s a possibility, but there remains uncertainty regarding how the final season of Manning’s current contract will play out.

Should the Giants decide to draft Haskins and keep Manning as their starting quarterback, the young signal caller said he’d have no problem sitting to start his career, learning from a two-time Super Bowl MVP.

The Giants have just begun their offseason evaluation process and neither team brass nor Manning provided further clarity about his immediate future last week. They could decide to part ways with Manning or bring him back on a restructured deal for one more season with the idea that general manager Dave Gettleman and staff would also add his replacement to the roster this offseason.

The Giants could also use free agency to move on from Manning with Nick Foles and Teddy Bridgewater as possible options if they were to hit the market.

Gettleman acknowledged in his season-ending news conference that he could not commit to what his ideal situation would be at quarterback because, essentially, all of the options had yet to be revealed. Consider Haskins’ declaration as the second domino following Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert’s decision to go back to school served as the first last week.

Manning’s wishes are at play here as well, with the veteran needing to decide if he wants to play in a scenario where a potential first-round pick like Haskins or someone else were on the sideline waiting for an opportunity – just as he was in 2004, his presence looming over the fate of Kurt Warner.

“I feel like he’s always been a great quarterback, I know he’s getting a little old, but he can still play,” Haskins said previously of Manning, who turned 38 last week. “I know they’re going through a little bit of a bad year this year, but they can bounce back. … He’s a legend. I learned from J.T. [Barrett], he was a legend [at Ohio State]. I mean, it’s not always about playing right away. It’s about learning what you can before you play so that you’re prepared to play. So if I get the opportunity to go to New York, whenever that time may be, I’ll definitely take it all in.”

Email: stapleton@northjersey.com

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