It’s been seven months since Keith Washington and DePriest Turner committed to Duke after an unofficial visit. Now, both are set to reunite in Berkeley this coming June when they arrive on campus as California Golden Bears defensive backs.
“You think about it, and you never think that’ll happen, but it did. It’s a great opportunity to play with a really good player,” Washington said on Sunday after he pulled the trigger for the second time. “We actually both took our unofficial visit to Duke this past summer, and we both were once committed to Duke. I talked with him on the visit then, and found out that he played near me. We actually have the same quarterback coach down in Mobile, Ala. – David Moore.”
Even during his official visit to Louisville this weekend, he had an inkling that he’d be joining Turner.
“I took my final official to Louisville this weekend, and it wasn’t bad. It was OK, but I was keeping track of the guys at Cal on social media,” Washington said. What stuck out to Washington as he made his other official visits? “Just the environment of the town itself, and the players and coaches, they just gave me a warm, welcoming environment, and the education, also, and the ability to get on the field early. That’s what stood out to me, with Cal, as opposed to the other schools.”
Like Turner, Washington has played both quarterback and defensive back in his high school career, playing only quarterback for the first time this season – his first at Prattville (Ala.), after transferring from Clute (Tex.) Brazoswood.
“I had been playing quarterback my whole life. They decided that they mainly needed me for quarterback, and didn’t want me to get hurt throughout the season. We had some good guys at corner, so there was really no need for me to play both sides of the ball.”
This season, Washington went 93-for-162 passing the ball for 1,718 yards and 17 touchdowns, while rushing 152 times for 1,201 yards and 20 touchdowns. Though he spent all of his game time on offense, he said he hasn’t lost a step on the other side of the ball.
“I played it in practice, and I don’t feel rusty at all,” Washington said. “I feel like I could get on the field and play any position, whether that’s receiver, the safety, and play it just as well I play quarterback.”
While Turner pulled the trigger and committed to the Bears on Dec. 22 – right in the midst of the dead period – it took all five official visits and an in-home visit from Greg Burns last week to seal the deal for Washington.
“I took all five officials, I weighed all my options, and Cal was the best place for me, from an education standpoint, and, I felt like it gave me the best opportunity from a football standpoint, also, and it’s just a beautiful area,” Washington said. “I kind of had my mind made up on this for a while, and the recruiting process had started getting a little stressful for me, and I’d set a date for myself that I wanted to make that decision today, no matter what, and I just kind of went with it.”
Burns’s in-home was the icing on the cake.
“It was big for me,” Washington said. “He’d come down once already, and the second time he came down, it showed me that he really wanted me to be a part of their team, and that I meant a lot to him. That was big for me.”
Washington’s addition – the fourth of the six defensive back commits to check in at 6-foot-2 or taller – is a big one for the Bears, whose passing defense last season ranked dead last in the Football Bowl Subdivision, allowing 4,406 yards through the air – 605 yards more than second-worst Bowling Green.
“I think the biggest attraction for a recruit is the ability to get a chance to get on the field early, and also, you’re in the Pac-12, a more passing-style conference, so you’re going to get a lot of balls thrown your way, no matter what game it is. That’s what I think is a huge recruiting bonus for all the guys that are coming in,” Washington said.