Elite Carolina RB Wants to Hear from Terps

Southlake Christian Academy running back Robert Washington had a season for the ages in 2013. The sophomore phenom, who figures to be one of the most highly sought-after backs in the 2016 class, led the nation with 2,512 rushing yards while averaging 11 yards a pop and scoring 28 touchdowns. To boot, Southlake rode Washington's legs to an 11-1 record and a class 2A/3A state championship.

Southlake Christian Academy (Huntersville, N.C.) running back Robert Washington had a season for the ages in 2013. The sophomore phenom, who figures to be one of the most highly sought-after backs in the 2016 class, led the nation with 2,512 rushing yards while averaging 11 yards a pop and scoring 28 touchdowns. To boot, Southlake rode Washington's legs to an 11-1 record and a class 2A/3A state championship.

"I think I did alright last year," Washington said, laughing. "The most important thing is we got those rings. Buy my coach, he coaches a college system and he did a great job setting me and the O-line up with the right holes, cutback lanes and things like that."

Make no mistake, Washington is a special talent. He routinely clocks in with a sub-4.4 40-yard dash time and has that coveted home-run hitting acceleration that separates the great runners from the merely average ones.

"I have good vision, I'm pretty fast, I can pull away, I can make guys miss and I know the game well," Washington said. "But you can always work on your craft; you can always get better. Right now I can carry five people on my back, but I want to be able to carry an entire team. Right now I'm fast enough to pull away, but I want to get even faster. I want to be a three-down back so when it's third-and-6 and you'd normally have to pass, you just give me the rock instead and know you're going to get a first down."

Given Washington's attitude and talent, it's little wonder he already claims double-digit offers from programs around the nation. Arizona, Arizona State, California, Duke, Boston College, Tennessee, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, North Carolina, NC State, Syracuse, UCLA, Virginia, Wake Forest, West Virginia and Wisconsin have all pulled the trigger, while the rest of the FCS power players are keeping close tabs as well.

Interestingly enough, Maryland has not offered yet, but Washington said he "really wants them to." Even though he has his pick of schools already, the primetime runner said the Terps have actually caught his eye and he'd like to hear more from area recruiter Andre Powell.

"I have a high interest in Maryland. I have a friend who lives in Maryland, Rahshaun Smith (St. Frances/Baltimore, Md.), who is a top linebacker in my class. We're really close, and he was telling me he's been to Maryland a bunch and really, really likes it there. He said the coaches show a lot of love and they're great at building relationships," Washington said. "Then they have guys like Stefon Diggs, and they do a great job advertising their players and putting them out there. And with the Under Armour exposure and all that, it's a good selling point. I'm down here in North Carolina, and I hear about Maryland all the time."

There's another significant reason Washington is intrigued by the Terps. His mother currently lives in Connecticut, and because she's busy with a construction company she owns, has been unable to see her son play high school football. Washington said if he played at Maryland or a school farther north it would make it possible for his mother to attend games.

"You know, Maryland is going to the Big Ten, and they'll be playing up in Michigan, Penn State, Ohio State and not only is that great competition, but my mom can get to those places easier," Washington said. "Also Maryland isn't too too far away from where she lives. It would be special for her to see me play."

Washington has yet to visit College Park, Md., himself, but he plans to at the end of April. He'll be participating in the Nike training camp April 26 and said he'll make a stop at Maryland while he's in town.

"I've been talking to the coaches [at Maryland] and I'll try to set all that up," Washington said. "Hopefully they'll show more interest in me and I get the offer soon."

Last weekend, Washington visited one of his ACC suitors, Virginia, for the first time.

"It went great. I talked to Coach [Marques] Hagans, Coach [Larry] Lewis and Coach [Mike] London. It was good to meet all of them, and they were all really easy to get along with," Washington said. "Coach London said he wants young talent like myself from North Carolina, Virginia, everywhere because he's looking to change the atmosphere there. He said he needs players like myself to get UVA back on track."

While in Charlottesville, Washington had a chance to take in a spring practice and meet one of Virginia's recent signees, Quin Blanding.

"Meeting Quin was pretty special; he's a big star and he was talking about how he could have gone to a lot of different [schools], but he chose Virginia," Washington said. "He gave me a lot to think about. I talked to one of their defensive backs too, and he was really cool and told me some good things about the school.

"And the spring practice was intense and had a really good tempo. Guys were flying around, getting after it. It really was a great experience. Virginia is a program I'll be looking at and I might get back there at some point."

The North Carolina back recently trekked to Tennessee as well. He said the coaches had invited him for a personal visit and he was able to make it on an off day.

"Tennessee's coaches are really down to earth. They tell me what I need to do to get ready for college and they're very informative," Washington said. "I talked to coach Butch Jones and he's a really nice guy. But it was just a really good trip all the way around. My dad, my cousin [2017 elite defensive back Aapri Washington] and my uncle walked around the campus, ate lunch with them, toured the facilities, and watched film. It was an impressive place, and you can't go wrong with that SEC brand. It's a big pull for them."

Washington has also been to the in-state programs N.C. State, Duke, UNC and Wake Forest. In addition, he's taken in a game at the Big House in Michigan.

"Michigan, they have a great tradition up there and one of the best programs in college football history. They had over 100,000 people in the stadium, and it's so loud -- screaming, shouting, people going crazy," Washington said. "Me, my cousin, my uncle and my dad had a ton of fun up there and it's a tremendous atmosphere.

"North Carolina is another school I like because it's close to home and I have a lot of friends going there. They have a new offensive coordinator and I've talked to him, and their coaches really want me to stay in-state. With Duke, you can't go wrong with their education. That's what stands out about them. With Wake Forest that's a great degree too and a Wake education holds a lot of weight. And NC State, they're rebuilding, but I can play early there. That's what they're stressing to me, that I can come in right away and make an impact."

Next up for Washington is a trip to Penn State next week, followed by Notre Dame in early April. He's also planning visits to Maryland, Wisconsin, West Virginia, Syracuse, Ole Miss and possibly Michigan again.

"I'm just taking all these schools in, visiting all these places and enjoying the process," Washington said. "My friends always ask me, ‘Oh what's your favorite?' But I truly don't have one yet. I'm open to everybody and just trying to build relationships."

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