Redshirt freshman quarterback Will Haskell announced today on Twitter that he will be entering the transfer portal to find a new home.
SDSU head coach Brady Hoke was asked during his weekly press conference today about Haskell’s status, saying, “when the portal opens (Haskell) is going to investigate the portal … he is going to finish his classes … we wish him the best of luck.”
In response to a follow-up question, Hoke added “I didn’t encourage him to do anything. I would have loved for him to have stayed … he is a competitor. He wants to play.”
The announcement comes three days after SDSU’s loss against Utah that saw Haskell inserted for one drive in the second quarter (three total plays) for injured starting quarterback Braxton Burmeister and then removed for the remainder of the game in lieu of true freshman Kyle Crum.
— William Haskell (@HaskellWilliam4) September 20, 2022
SDSU head coach Brady Hoke said in the postgame press conference that he and offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Jeff Hecklinski made the decision that Crum gave them a better opportunity to win the game. Hoke added that Haskell and Crum split reps with the second team during practice prior to the game despite Haskell still being listed as the backup on the depth chart.
Haskell came into the scoreless game against 14th-ranked Utah with 13:26 remaining in the second quarter with the ball on the 35-yard line. After two handoffs to running back Cam Davis totaled two yards, an unblocked blitzer up the middle forced Haskell to quickly dump the ball off to Davis in the flat for a one-yard gain. The Aztecs punted on 4th and 7.
Hoke admitted today the determination to move forward with Crum was made after Haskell’s one drive, relating it to “where we should have gone with the football (on the plays).” When asked whether three plays is enough to justify pulling a young quarterback who is still learning and developing, Hoke stated, “we have been practicing for 12 weeks … there’s a lot of stuff out there.”
Haskell had been listed as the backup quarterback behind Burmeister since the first depth chart was released in the preseason and prior to each of the first three games of the season. When Burmeister came out of the opening game of the season against Arizona twice due to injury issues, Haskell replaced him both times.
After starting his true freshman year in 2021 as the fourth quarterback on the depth chart behind Jordon Brookshire, Lucas Johnson, and Jalen Mayden, Haskell elevated himself to as high as second as the season progressed. Despite playing a few drives in various games during the season in blowout scenarios, his redshirt status remained intact because he did not appear in more than four games.
With news that the coaching staff did not offer returning scholarships to Brookshire and Johnson (both were eligible for super senior seasons) and the transition of Mayden to safety, it appeared the coaching staff’s confidence in Haskell was high entering 2022. The only other quarterbacks on the roster on scholarship at that time were true freshmen Crum and Liu Aumavae, who graduated high school early and enrolled at SDSU for the spring semester.
Understandably, the staff dipped their toes into the transfer portal looking for an experienced quarterback to add to their unit of three talented, but, inexperienced freshmen. They came away with Burmeister, a local product who started games at Oregon and Virginia Tech, and who had only one year of eligibility remaining.
Head coach Brady Hoke’s culture has always preached competition across all the positions on the team. No player is handed a starting position regardless of tenure, high school recruiting stars or past performance.
The competition for starting quarterback was expected to be decided between Burmeister and Haskell, while the true freshmen gained valuable experience and development in the offensive system.
Unlike the quarterback competition in 2021 lasted all the way until the week prior to the opening game of the season, Burmeister was named the starter by Hoke three weeks into spring camp and prior to the spring game which strengthened a prevailing belief among some close to the program that Burmeister was promised the starting position when he transferred to SDSU and a true competition never materialized. Hoke refuted this idea when asked about it by the media.
While it did not surprise many that the staff chose to proceed with a player who started many guys at two Power 5 schools, it was eye-opening to see the backup role undecided between Haskell, Crum, and Aumavae on the post-spring depth chart despite Haskell’s extra year in the program.
Asked about the depth chart during Episode 28 of The SDSU Football Podcast, Hecklinski insisted Haskell was the backup heading into fall camp. While the fall camp depth chart confirmed Hecklinski’s statement, the rumblings around the staff’s trust and faith in Haskell grew.
On Monday, Haskell’s father posted a cryptic tweet alluding to his son’s situation with one sentence stating, “can’t win with him?” which fuels speculation that the SDSU coaching staff told the quarterback that remark.
1st. Best to the players, NOT ABOUT YOU!
I'm chilling but
You caused this.
Disrespect to the face.
What did 4,7,or 18, have to do with this? Not letting that slide.
cant win with him?
Thx for the O in HS. Helped get to the finals. But doesnt know..
— Will (@whaskellsr) September 19, 2022
When reached for comment on the tweet on Monday, Haskell, Sr. told EVT he did not wish to expound on the meaning of the tweet. He did, however, tell EVT on Monday that “big picture, this will be a footnote for SDSU and will further shape (my son) as a person.” When asked if that meant Haskell will look to transfer, Haskell, Sr. replied, “He will inform everyone of any future plans.”
By Tuesday, Haskell announced his decision, ending his 15-month tenure at SDSU.
“We are definitely going to miss Will, we wish him well wherever his path takes him,” said senior center Alama Uluave during the weekly press conference on Tuesday. Senior linebacker Caden McDonald added similar sentiments, saying, “(Will’s) a great young man and a phenomenal teammate. Truly wish him well and the best.”
Haskell entered the program last summer with high expectations based on his athletic ability and eye-popping highlights. Aztecs’ fans who called for Haskell to play last year during a 12-2 season and who have questioned the offensive system and playcalling will now grow louder, especially if Haskell is successful at another program over the next three to four years and the lack of NFL talent at the position at SDSU since Ryan Lindley.
One has to wonder whether Haskell was given a fair shot to become SDSU’s starting quarterback or if the coaching staff had belief in him at the start of spring which waned until recently.
What is evident is that the lack of success in the passing game under the current coaching staff gives credence to those who argue Haskell was not given the proper coaching needed to develop his athletic abilities and talents into a seasoned college football quarterback.
In time, we may find out the answer.