Keys to the NFL Ignition

Chaz Washington is a focused kid who has his priorities in order. Grades, football, and his future are foremost on his mind right now. He first spoke about his current season on the field.

"We play our quarterfinal game this week against West Monroe," Washington said with excitement. "We both come in 11-1. This almost feels like a state championship game. It doesn't get any bigger than this. I'm very ready for it."

Chaz Washington, 6-foot-3 and 300 pounds, began the season playing on both sides of the football. That changed at midseason.

"I tore some ligaments in my foot, which prevented me from playing both ways," he said. "The coaches took me off the offense and now I'm playing strictly defense. I'm loving it. It (the foot injury) hurt a little bit at first but I had to suck it up and be a man about it. I had to be a leader."

The talented defender believes that you win at the line of scrimmage with quickness.

"My speed is what sets me apart," he said. "I worked out a lot with (professional trainer) Tom Shaw. I got a whole lot quicker. That's the name of my game. I'm always aware of where the ball's at too. I model my game around Jevon Kearse. I see why they call him the freak. He wins with quickness and he's a leader, a great player both on and off the field. That's how I want to be known."

Following his senior season, Washington plans to begin preparing hard for his college future.

"I'm gonnna hit the weights and books real hard," he said. "I wanna be in the best shape possible when I get to Miami. I wanna be able to compete right away. I'm re-taking the ACT again. I got a 17 so I should be alright. I'm shooting for a 20 or 21."

Despite having offers from all over, Washington made an October commitment to the University of Miami. How firm is that decision now?

"Miami is No. 1 and there isn't anyone else even in it," he said. "I'm going to be a Hurricane. I wanna play in the NFL one day and nobody prepares you better for that than Miami. That's where my heart's at. They put people into the pros. They give you the keys to the NFL ignition."

The talented senior is excited about becoming a Hurricane.

"Coach Coker's done a great job there with that program," he said. "Everyone likes him there. Look how many times they've won and how many guys off his teams have gone into the pros. They had a heartbreaker the other night but they'll bounce back and finish strong. I have a visit scheduled for January 23rd but I wanna move that up some since I'm really looking forward to checking it out and spending some time there. I've only been to Miami once and that was for a camp my freshman year."

Washington knows about the strong tradition of NFL stars that have walked through the UM doors. One of those players is Ed Reed, who is an alumni at Washington's high school -- Destrehan, La.

"We're tight," he said. "He's given me good pointers about how to become a man there and how to grow up fast. That's what separates a lot of guys at that level. You should see his younger brother (Edwin). He's only a junior but he's a beast. He's a MAN and everyone says he'll be way better than his brother because he's so much further along right now than Ed was."

Washington, who says he won't take any other visits, is trying to recruit teammate Jai Eugene to Miami as well.

"He's visiting on the (20th)," he said. "He likes Miami a lot too. I'm talking to him about it. He's a tremendous player, a great leader, and someone who will make a good decision. I really hope he comes and I think there's a great chance of that happening."

Washington had some final words of encouragement for Canes fans.

"When you think of Miami, you think about guys like Warren Sapp, Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, and Michael Irvin," he said. "Hopefully someday people will be able to put my name into that group."

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