Not only is Washington, a junior from Burke County High School, back, but he'll be starting at middle linebacker Saturday when the No. 22 Bulldogs take on No. 16 Alabama.
"Marcus has been a big surprise for us really," Richt said. "For him to play as well as he has been big for him and big for us."
Washington missed the final two games of 2006 and all of spring practice due to torn ligaments in his knee, but he slowly showed his coaches progress as the preseason passed, Richt said, culminating with last week's five-tackle, one-sack effort against Western Carolina.
"It's great, but I'm still not proven yet," Washington said. "Last week, I had a good game, but we did play Western Carolina. We've got a big SEC opponent this week so I have to come out and I've got to be on my game."
Dannell Ellerbe will start at weak side linebacker Saturday. Asked if senior Brandon Miller or redshirt freshman Akeem would start at strong side linebacker, Richt replied, "don't know." He did confirm Chris Davis and Clint Boling will start at guard.