Washington Becoming Mr. Versatile For Tigers

Junior Demond Washington talks about playing safety and preparing for his first Iron Bowl.

Auburn, Ala.--It's amazing to think that as the Auburn Tigers prepare to face Alabama in the Iron Bowl coming up the day after Thanksgiving that neither of the starting two safeties (Daren Bates and Demond Washington) was on campus last year.

Not only was neither player around last season, both only arrived at Auburn as the Tigers started two-a-day practices in the fall. To make matters more complicated for Washington, he played entirely at cornerback before making the move to safety before a week 10 matchup against Furman.

Now coming off his second Auburn start at Georgia, a game in which he returned a kickoff for a score against the Bulldogs and set an Auburn record for single-game return yardage, Washington is prepared for his toughest test yet against the Crimson Tide in his first Iron Bowl.

"I did all right, but I can do better," Washington said. "We didn't win so I didn't do too good.

"I just know it's a bitter rivalry," he added about playing Alabama next week. "It's one of the biggest rivalries in the whole nation."

Playing in all 11 games this season, Washington has 29 tackles and a sack as he's mostly been used in nickel situations until the last two weeks. Forced to play safety despite being undersized, Washington has a lot to learn in a short period of time.

That's because coming up is a physical Alabama offense led by 1000-yard rusher Mark Ingram. With the duties much different at safety, Washington said his main goal is to know where he belongs in the running game at all times.

"Knowing where you have to be placed in the run fit is tough," Washington said. "My hat is off to the linebackers. I know it's pretty tough. I'll put a lot of work into that this week. I'll be sure to know it better by next Friday. When we play Alabama I'll be ready for it."

It certainly won't be a surprise if Washington steps up and has his best game against the Crimson Tide. After all he's routinely done just that when called upon this season. Coach Gene Chizik said the former Tallassee High standout has earned his stripes this season by his work on the field and his willingness to help the team in any way possible.

"I'm really proud of the kid," Chizik said. "He came in late. He wasn't here in the summer. He just kept working and working and working. It didn't matter where we put him, he just wanted to play football. Think about all the new roles he's played in the last two weeks. He's a good football player."

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