As one of the most coveted prospects in the 2016 class, Huntersville (N.C.) Southlake Christian four-star running back Robert Washington has an impressive list of suitors. After speaking with Michigan offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier this morning, his offer sheet grew even longer.
“Coach Nuss offered,” said Washington. “I talked with Coach [Fred] Jackson last night and he told me to call around 10 today. When I called, he gave the phone to the [Coach Nussmeier] and he offered.”
This is an offer that Washington has long awaited, and he was overjoyed to see it finally come to fruition.
“It means the world to me right now because I’ve been talking to them for so long and I like Michigan a lot,” said Washington. “With them offering me and showing their interest in me as well as my interest in them, it means a lot to me.”
With such a large collection of schools pursuing the nation’s No. 9 running back, Washington has received a bevy of recruiting pitches lately with the Wolverines leading the charge.
“Michigan has been talking a lot to me,” said Washington. “I’ve been talking to Coach J and Coach [Roy] Manning because I have been talking to Michigan a lot. I’ve been talking to Ohio State, Syracuse a lot, Wake Forest, and Notre Dame. I’ve been talking to those guys a lot.”
Washington has developed a strong relationship with those two members of the Michigan contingent over the course of his recruitment. Coach Jackson, who handles the running backs at UM, and coach Manning, who is the area recruiter for Washington’s North Carolina home, have stayed in close contact with the 5’10”, 210 lb. recruit.
“Coach J and Coach Manning have been recruiting me since my 9th grade year,” said Washington. “It’s been two years now, and I really have a good relationship with them. Talking to them and getting to know them over these two years until they did offer me... Coach Nussmeier, I’ve got to get to know him. Now I’ll just talk to him, call him and get to know him like I know Coach J and Coach Manning.”
While Washington is not overly familiar with the new Michigan offensive coordinator, he is familiar with how coach Nussmeier intends to use the running back position going forward, something that intrigues him about the Wolverines offense in 2014.
“I like the way Coach [Nussmeier] is looking to take the program and I like the way he uses his running backs,” said Washington. “They run and they block and they use them in the passing game. They use the versatility of a running back and they play to the running back’s strengths, which is great. It’s just a great program for a running back.”
Now that Washington holds an offer from the Maize and Blue, a return visit to Michigan’s campus is next on the docket. A definitive date has not yet been set, but Washington has a fairly good idea of when it will come.
“I need to talk with my parents and get everything right and go up with some of my friends so we can make it up there for a game this fall,” said Washington.
Getting Washington back on campus will be the next step for Michigan. If all goes well, it will likely cement the Wolverines position in his top group. However, Washington says they are already in quite good standing.
“They are ranking high with me right now,” said Washington. “I don’t want to give anything away because I have to release the other ten schools in my top 15 coming soon, but Michigan ranks very high with me.”
Once Washington releases his top 15 schools he will start narrowing his list down further and further. This process will help Washington focus on the schools that appear to be the best fit before he issues his commitment. But when will that verbal pledge come?
“I think during the next spring for me,” said Washington. “I will probably cut it down to ten during the season and five in January, then just focus on those five schools and getting to know them and build relationships with them better. Then I will probably go from those five and I will make my commitment in the spring time.”
In order to properly trim his list, Washington will focus on a few important factors that will shape his decision. At this early juncture, Michigan checks out well in several of these categories.
“It’s just a couple of things really,” said Washington. “Do I like the campus and do I feel comfortable there? Do they have great academics? Which Michigan does. Also can I impact the program at an early time like my freshman year and do I have a relationship with the coaches? Those things weigh into my decision on which school and that makes things so hard.”
Before making that decision, Washington has his sights set on another successful season at Southlake Christian Academy. Last year, Washington rushed for 2,512 yards and 28 touchdowns, but he is determined to follow up that prolific output with an even more impressive junior campaign.
“Of course the team goal is to win a state championship,” said Washington. “For an individual goal, I plan to rush for 3,000 yards. I mean, I will rush for 3,000 yards. It’s one of my goals. As a running back you always have to hit that 3,000 yard barrier and that’s what I want to do.”