school and was wowed that someone would invest that in him.
He took it upon himself to be the best he could for the
schools that would want to make that commitment to him,
and soon became a complete running back at SouthLake
Christian Academy in Huntersville, N.C.
Washington models himself after Marshawn Lynch. He’s
been working on matching “Beast Mode’s” nasty stiff arm,
but like Lynch, he can outrun opponents with his 4.4-speed
or bowl over defenders with his 215-pound frame.
“I’m not at his level yet,” Washington said. “But I would like
to be in that category.”
Ole Miss stayed on Washington’s recruitment until the
end, but almost 40 other schools joined in. Ole Miss ac-
cepted two running back commits, however, so Washington
WASHINGTON’S FAMILY RECEIVED SO MUCH MAIL IT
filled three 16-gallon plastic containers. Fans were so eager
to see him commit to their team; they were even sending
messages to his girlfriend. The two laughed about it.
“They wouldn’t ask me because they knew I wouldn’t tell
them so they asked her,” Washington said.
On April 27, Washington picked Syracuse, a huge recruiting
win for the Orange. He thinks his smash-mouth style will fit
nicely with coach Scott Shafer’s plan for the program.
“We just clicked,” Washington said of the coaching staff at
Toughness is something football has brought out of
“It made me a lot tougher because with football you’ve
He felt pressure to be an example on and off the field.
got to have thick skin. You’re going to have bad games. You
can’t just whine about it. You’re going to have bad plays.
You’re going to fumble, you’re going to drop balls, people
are going to score on you,” Washington said. “It teaches you
how to change your mind. You can’t focus on what happens
in the past, you’ve got to focus on the things of future. It
makes you a better person; it teaches you how to be a
better man. It’s life lessons: teamwork, it’s adversity, it’s
Washington is used to being the target for opposing play-
ers who want to make a name for their selves when college
coaches eventually get ahold of Washington’s film.
“Being highly recruited is definitely fun, but it’s a hassle
“You’re in the limelight, you’re on the pedestal,” Washington
at the same time,” Washington explained. “If you make a
bad grade, they’re looking at you. If you make a good grade,
everybody’s looking at you.”
But being in the spotlight has never been something from
which he’s backed down.
said. “Everyone’s looking at you, so [football is] a tool you use
to better yourself, not just as a player but as a person as well.”
WASHINGTON WANTS TO GRADUATE EARLY, WHICH IS
why he transferred this summer from SouthLake Christian to
Mount Island Charter School in Mount Holly, N.C.
SouthLake was not on a block schedule.
It will be quite the change from his small Christian school
on the other side of neighboring Mecklenburg County. For
one, he’s leaving the school he helped put on the map.
“They did many things for me over those three years. I thank
them and they were a blessing for me,” Washington said. “It’s
just a transition I had to take to better me as a person.”
SouthLake was 2-9 before Wash-
ington’s freshman year then posted
three straight seasons of 11-2, 12-1
and 11-1, including back-to-back N.C.
Independent Schools Athletic Associa-
tion Division II titles. Washington was
All-State on the two title teams.
“That’s one thing I can boast about at
Washington won’t take the turnaround project for granted.
SouthLake,” Washington said. “Every-
body doesn’t win a state championship
in high school. It’s a blessing to go to
one and to win two back-to-back is
That experience will come in handy
at Mountain Island, where he’ll join the first varsity football
team in school history
The Raptors will join the Southern Piedmont 1A Confer-
ence this year, which features five other charter schools (one
does not play football) and two public ones - Cherryville and
He takes nothing for granted anymore.
“There’s nothing like Friday night. Just that moment and
that feeling that you get in your body; that you get in your
stomach – you’ve got butterflies but you’re excited at the
same time. There’s nothing like it,” he said.
As he looks forward to his senior year in a new place
and to his college career, Washington is grateful for what
happened when he was 12.
“At that moment, it was the most horrible thing that
could’ve happened to me,” Washington said. “It was
definitely a blessing that they found it, they fixed it and it did
not hurt me.”
Washington (center) will be
the face of Mountain Island
Charter School, which will
field its first varsity football
team in 2015.
School in order
to graduate in