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Dwayne Haskins Jr (Photo: Phelan M. Ebenhack/AP)

Dwayne Haskins Jr. is a problem solver. Whether he’s on a football field as the fourth-ranked pocket-passing quarterback in the nation, or in a classroom at The Bullis School in Potomac, Md., Haskins always seems to find a solution.

He has a 3.5 GPA, and it’s no surprise that the high school senior’s favorite subject is math.

“I like going through problems and finding the answer,” Haskins said. “When you finally find the answer, it’s satisfying because you worked so hard to get the answer.”

Haskins is no stranger to working hard. He didn’t start playing football until he was eight, and even then, he stuck with defensive positions, such as fullback and blocking tight end. It wasn’t until Haskins turned eleven that he decided he wanted to be a quarterback. He progressed from being a third-string quarterback on his Pop Warner team to being a highly-recruited starter in high school.

“That was a pretty cool experience for me, going from being someone who had to follow the crowd to being the leader of the crowd,” said Haskins, who committed to Ohio State in January.

Haskins was recently selected as a finalist for the prestigious Franklin D. Watkins Memorial Trophy Award.

The Watkins Award recognizes exceptionally talented African-American male athletes who, through their example, help promote high academic standards and a commitment to community service. The finalists were selected based on their extracurricular activities, grade-point average, personal statement and letters of recommendation.

Haskins is more than a pro-style quarterback and math wiz; he’s also the sports editor of his school newspaper, The Bullis Bulldog.

The 18-year-old said his parents, Dwayne Sr. and Tamara, and little sister, Tamia, have been very supportive over the years. He added that his faith-based family has always pushed him to overcome obstacles.

“There were times I didn’t feel like I was good enough to play football or good enough to be recruited, so my dad stuck with me,” he said. “There were times when school started getting harder—and school always used to be easy for me—so I was like, ‘How do I continue to do well in school?’ My mom taught me that.”

The other Watkins Award finalists are Brandon Burton (Los Angeles), Messiah deWeaver (Dayton, Ohio), and Brandon Hill (Orangeburg, S.C.). Past winners include Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston and Rhodes Scholar Myron Rolle. This year’s winner will be announced on March 12 at a black-tie dinner in Washington, D.C.

Ahead of the announcement, Haskins says he has already found the solution for his nerves.

“My parents always told me to never have expectations for something you can’t control; just have fun and God will reward you,” he said. “You just have to work hard, and that’s what I did.”