Southlake Christian Academy’s (Huntersville, N.C.) Robert Washington has a mind-boggling offer list that stretches beyond 40, though the humble, 5-foot-10, 215-pound running back rarely pays it much mind. A deeply religious recruit, Washington thanks God every day for the opportunities he has, and chooses to channel his efforts into helping his teammates and his own personal workouts.
“It’s just a blessing to have a chance to go to college for free, a blessing to be able to pursue a degree and get an education,” said Washington, who holds offers from the likes of Arizona, Arizona State, Arkansas, Nebraska, Boston College, California, Duke, North Carolina, Florida, Florida State, Ohio State, Notre Dame, Michigan, Ole Miss, Maryland, Louisville, Michigan State, Virginia Tech, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Syracuse, Tennessee, UCLA, NC State and others. “But I know I can’t rest or let all of this [the recruiting attention] affect who I am and how I prepare. So I’ve been working hard in the classroom and in the weight room. I just took the SAT and I think I did real good, and I’ve been getting bigger, stronger, faster. I’m working on my speed, my footwork, my explosion – everything.”
Washington’s latest offer was from Rutgers, and he said programs such as USC, Oklahoma, Texas and others could be anteing up soon. That said, he’s not looking for anymore scholarships at the moment, because “I’m comfortable with what I have. I’ve got enough [offers]; I’m pretty good right now.”
In fact, Washington has already started to narrow his focus. He wants to have his college decision made my mid- to late March and has about nine or 10 schools in mind, though he’s only publically released two of them: North Carolina and Pittsburgh.
“But what I’m going to do is every week, maybe like every Sunday, I’m going to release another top school until I set my commitment date in March. Then I’ll probably pick between like three schools when I announce,” Washington said. “With Pitt and UNC, I wouldn’t say they’re my top two, but they’re under consideration for me. UNC, that’s my hometown school and I have a very good relationship with that staff. And Pitt, it’s a new staff there, but I know Coach [Andre] Powell, the running backs coach, when he was at Maryland and he’s a real good guy. I’m looking forward to meeting all the coaches there and maybe getting up there to visit if I can.”
Washington mentioned that he’s “thinking about a couple more schools,” but he didn’t want to give anything away before releasing more finalists via Twitter.
That said, both Ohio State and Notre Dame figure to make the cut, as do Tennessee and Michigan. He has visited each of the above quartet multiple times and has been effusive in his praise, especially of the Buckeyes and Fighting Irish.
“Notre Dame is a great school academically, and I’m comfortable there. They have two running backs graduating and it’s a chance for early playing time,” Washington said. “It’s a religious school too, and I’m a religious person, so that plays a role. I have a great relationship with [the Notre Dame] coaches too. Ohio State, I’ve been up there a bunch and they just won a national championship. I know they have some other [running backs] there, but that’s a great school with a great staff.”
One prime player that hasn’t been mentioned much nationally is Maryland. The Terps, which offered Washington in November, 2014, jumped into the game a little late, but the dynamo back has held an affinity for UMD for quite some time. He has family in the College Park, Md., area and knows plenty of other recruits from the DMV, namely four-star junior quarterback Dwayne Haskins (Bullis/Potomac, Md.) and junior cornerback Trevon Diggs (Avalon/Gaithersburg, Md.)
“I like the Terps a lot actually. I have friends like Dwayne [Haskins] and Trevon [Diggs] up there and they both like Maryland a lot. So if they go there, well, that’s a school I’ll really be looking at,” Washington said. “And I actually went up there before they offered me, and I loved it. It’s a beautiful campus. The coaches are down to earth, and that’s great, and I have a lot of friends there. I really want to get back to see all the new things they’re building. I hope I can make it there.
“The Terps are on the rise. They’re a program to watch out for, that’s for sure.”
Former Terps running backs coach Andre Powell recruited Washington, but since he’s now at Pittsburgh, the Southlake prospect has been in touch with UMD recruiting coordinator John Dunn. Washington said the two have quickly formed a bond.
“Coach Dunn was actually the one that let me know I had the offer. Me and him message each other like every day on Twitter,” Washington said. “I send him stuff, he sends me stuff, and it’s been great. We have a really good relationship so it’s been good.
“But I’m just trying to get in more depth with their coaching staff because Coach Powell left for Pitt. I know they just hired a new guy, Terry Richardson, and that’s cool; I know he was with the Jaguars. So I want to get to know him more.”
In the month or so leading up to his decision, the North Carolina product said he’s going to be closely monitoring coaching changes and where other top running backs are heading. He’ll also be in contact with several of his friend recruits to see where they’ll be attending college.
“I’m just thinking and praying right now,” Washington said. “Thinking and praying.”
“But I actually haven’t taken any visits yet this offseason, because I wanted to get this SAT out of the way first. But I’m actually planning to get up to a few places before I commit in March. I don’t know exactly where I’m going yet, though. I’ll probably take personal campus visits, and if it works out I’ll do a couple junior days too.”
Washington had previously been to Clemson, Notre Dame, Ohio State, North Carolina, West Virginia, Tennessee, Syracuse, Virginia Tech, Maryland, Penn State, Virginia, Wake Forest, Vanderbilt, NC State, Duke, Boston College, Michigan, Arkansas and Ole Miss. He visited UND, UNC, Ohio State, NC State, Michigan and Duke multiple times.
“I’ve been to a lot of really nice schools, some really nice campuses. And my take is, distance really isn’t a factor for me,” Washington said. “I want to go somewhere where I can start early, where I have a good relationship with the coaches and where I feel most comfortable. It can be East Coast, West Coast – it doesn’t matter.”
Several of Washington’s main suitors, however, already have a class of 2016 running back commit, including Ohio State (Kareem Walker from DePaul Catholic in Wayne, N.J.) and Maryland (Lorenzo Harrison from DeMatha in Hyattsville, Md.).
“I wouldn’t be deterred [by another running back pledge], but I do want to be the main guy,” Washington said. “I mean, if I really liked the school enough, I would look past that, but if I had my choice I’d be the only guy they bring in.”
Last year Washington rushed for 2,233 yards and 27 touchdowns while helping Southlake to a N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association Division III title.
“I think I did pretty good,” Washington said, laughing. “I went over 2,000 yards and we repeated as state champions, so I can’t complain. It was a pretty good year.”
Washington Narrowing Focus; Likes UMD 'A Lot'
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