Introducing The 2003 Class: Mark Washington

There comes a time where the impact of a recruit can span far longer than his four years of eligibility. Hailing from Long Beach Poly High School, one of the premier programs in the country, linebacker Mark Washington realizes that his influence could benefit the Sun Devils long after his playing days in Tempe are over. DevilsDigest talked to Washington as he gets ready to embark on his ASU career.

The PrepStar All-American, who was the best linebacker in his fabled high school, naturally garnered a lot of recruiting interest from programs all over the country. However, ASU was one of the few programs Washington favored a while back. "ASU showed interest right from the beginning of the recruiting process." He says, "They were one of the first ones to send me letters in my junior year. They were the second or third college to offer me a scholarship, so they were definitely in the picture early." The's No. 5 linebacker in the West recalls his first meeting with the ASU staff as a very positive experience. "I met with (defensive coordinator and linebacker coach) Brent Guy right after my junior year. I was thinking back then that he would be a cool coach to play for. I didn't get anything negative from him."

The negative vibes in his recruiting process actually came from other schools, who according to the linebacker were hardly shy bringing up ASU's 2001 campaign. "Schools reminded me about ASU going 4-7 (smile)." Says Washington, "But that wasn't a real concern of mine. I won't name names, but some schools were telling me ‘don't go here' because it's this way or that way. I don't really like when people downgrade other colleges. Every college has its good side and bad side. A college that talks more about itself and not others, and also talks in only positive ways, is a college that you want to go to… I think everything is on the rise at ASU, and I think I can contribute to the team."

The first-team defense all-C.I.F, who is also a member of the "Who's Who" Sports All-American was also seriously considering Washington State, USC, and Colorado before he made his decision. His verbal commitment came literally a week before letter of intent day, where he chose ASU over his dad's alma mater – the Buffaloes. "It was really agonizing. I wasn't getting any sleep two weeks before my decision. There were a lot of phone calls…I was thinking all the time about all the pros and cons of the schools when it comes to football, academics, social life, location…" The fact that he did verbal didn't stop his other suitors from pursuing him. "Colorado kept on recruiting me after I verbaled. Until I put that ink on the paper it didn't let down (smile)."

As the case with many other Sun Devil signees, Washington's strongest impressions from his official visit were mainly the extraordinary amenities and sense of team cohesiveness. "The facilities stood out. It's one thing to see them in a book or hear about them, and another to witness them in person. It was a real eye opener… I enjoyed hanging with my host Skyler Fulton. I was impressed how well the team got along with each other, and how tight the coaches were with the players. You get a real sense of football family. With a family attitude people can help me adjust and show me how to do things. Then later on, when it's time for me to show players around, I'll know what to do."

The most recent Tempe trip the linebacker took was late in March during spring practice, a trip that had some more memorable moments for him. "It was a real fun experience. The biggest thing that stood out for me was meeting all those great ex-Sun Devil players. It was great chatting with them and getting some advice on what to expect playing at ASU. I talked to (former ASU linebacker) Adam Archuleta and Terrell Suggs. It was great to be that close to a players that are playing at the next level."

Washington started two seasons at his fabled high school, after playing his sophomore season at Artesia High School where he teamed up with current ASU defensive lineman Ricky Parker. Playing on such a stellar prep team is an experience the linebacker will never forget. "Playing at Poly is like a dream. The reason I came here is because I wanted a challenge, and Poly definitely has it. Each year you have 300 guys trying to make the football team, and we have a series of three cuts. Once you make the cuts, you have four guys that are just as talented as you are fighting for the same position. So, if you're a starter you really earned it…We got to travel to places like Hawaii, and it was just a real cool experience." Playing at a successful program can quickly elevate a player to an idol like status, especially in the high school ranks. While Washington enjoyed this aspect, he realized it came with a lot of responsibility. "We did get a lot of respect, but we also had to carry ourselves a certain way because of that respect. We had a lot of people looking up to us, and we had to set a good example."

As mentioned, Washington is not only counted on to make an impact at his linebacker position, but to also to possibly establish a much coveted recruiting pipeline between the Sun Devils and Poly High School. The incoming freshman is more than happy to lay the foundation down for this project. "I think me playing at ASU definitely has its advantages when recruiting my old teammates. I'm already trying to have some of them come down and take a visit here, but I don't have them locked down yet (smile). I'm like a second recruiter…If you have a successful season, and you like the coaches and your teammates then when you try to get someone to come to ASU they'll definitely respect your opinion because you were there before. I more than willing to help ASU get players from Poly."

The hard-hitting linebacker amassed 120 total tackles (65 solo tackles, 23 tackles for loss) during his senior year, as well as six quarterback sacks, three fumble recoveries and five caused fumbles. Washington who was voted his team's best linebacker lists his versatility as his biggest asset. "What separates me from other players is that with my size I can do well both in the run game and the pass game (the linebacker runs a 4.6 in the 40-yard dash)…I do need to get a better football sense and be more instinctive. You have to have that to play linebacker. But that will come with more experience."

The academically qualified Washington said that the Devils' 4-2-5 defensive alignment, which on paper can seem less linebacker friendly than traditional schemes, was hardly a negative factor when it came to his decision to don the maroon and gold. "From the outside looking in it would be (a negative perception). But if you watch the game the coach rotates the linebackers a lot, so if you're second string you'll get to play a lot too. So, I wasn't too concerned about that." He added that the attacking mode of the ASU defense suits his skills and tendencies quite well. "I love to see something and go after it. I don't like to sit back and wait for something to come to me. I want to have the freedom to create some havoc, and make a tackle – hopefully for a loss (smile)."

Former high teammates indicated to Washington that playing in a program like Poly could aid him in the transition to college football, and make the adjustment that much faster. Just to be on the safe side, the linebacker plans to enroll in school next month. "I'm coming into the bridge program in June. It's very important to come in early when you don't have experience. It will help me bond with the team better and not face a lot of those pressures so close to the season. I think it will benefit me a lot."

Mark Washington epitomizes ASU's linebacker core in 2003 – young, but extremely talented. He's confident that he will be able to make his mark in his first year, and anticipates being a vital component of his unit. "I expect not to redshirt. I guess I'll be OK to redshirt if the coach thinks that's necessary. Maybe I'll need the time to grow and improve my game. But I think both the coach and I are expecting not to redshirt." Playing in a program that expects nothing short of excellence, suffice to say that great expectations have been a constant in Mark Washington's high school football career. His lofty accolades indicate how well he responded to the rigors and pressures of that situation, which could be a prelude to a successful career in Tempe.

Recruit Profile


Mark Washington

High School

Polytechnic HS (Long Beach, CA)







Date of Birth



Gardena, CA


"The Machine"

Favorite TV Show


Favorite Movie


Favorite Singer

50 Cents

Favorite Food

Granola Cereal

Favorite Drink

Ice Tea

Favorite Athlete

Ray Lewis

Favorite Pro Team

Pittsburgh Steelers

Person you most admire

"Both my parents. My dad was in the same situation as myself, and helped me deal with all these recruiting situations. I definitely wouldn't have made it this far without his support and my mother's."

First Football Memory

"I didn't start playing until my sophomore year. I remember playing against Hershel Dennis (current USC running back) in my junior year."

One Thing most people don't know about me

"How focused I can be when I want to."

Why did you choose ASU?

"Playing time. I felt that I could definitely play early at ASU."

Where do you want to be in ten years?

"My aspirations are to be in the NFL. If that doesn't work out, I'm gonna be studying business or public communications, so I'd like to be working in those areas."

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