Season Wrap-Up: Damien Washington

North Carolina pledge Damien Washington's breakout season ended in the NCHSAA 3AA West Regional semifinals on Friday as Kannapolis (N.C.) Brown was downed by Charlotte (N.C.) Catholic, 35-9.

"Looking back, our season went really good," Washington said. "We only lost one [regular season] game and we won the conference – that was a great accomplishment.

"[Catholic] was a well-coached team. Their defense went into motion a lot and keyed on Kalif [Phillips] and I, and made sure we weren't able to do what we wanted to do. They stuffed the inside and kept the outside contained."

Under former coach Ron Massey, Washington, a 6-foot, 166-pounder, was mostly a reserve playing quarterback, running back, and defense back. In newly hired Mike Newsome's offense, which helped Matthews (N.C.) Butler win back-to-back NCHSAA 4AA titles, Washington played H-back, a hybrid receiver/running back.

"I really didn't know what to expect coming into the season," Washington said. "I just knew I was going to do whatever it took to win."

In addition to winning a dozen games, Washington ended the season with 18 total touchdowns, plus 1,091 yards on 88 rushes (12.4-yard average), 294 yards on 16 catches (18.4-yard average), and 58 yards on two passes. Those numbers would have been even more impressive if not for a knee injury, which required surgery and sidelined Washington for four games.

"[The athletic trainer] did some real good work with therapy and working out my knee making sure it's alright," Washington said. "[The knee] is actually doing really well right now. I feel like I'm close to 100-percent, but I'm not all that sure what I can and can't do."

If there is a silver lining in Brown's early playoff exit it is that Washington's knee will receive a few weeks of rest to reach 100-percent health before he heads down to Spartanburg for the 75th Annual Shrine Bowl. Washington believes he'll be playing slot receiver for the North Carolina squad.

"I would love to be playing this week and beyond that, but I could use the recovery time," Washington said.

After returning from the Shrine Bowl, Washington will continue to rest until the spring sports season where he will join Brown's track team. He plans to run the 100-, 200-, and 400-meter dashes. He ran the 100 and 200 last spring with career best times of 10.8 and 22.4 seconds, respectfully.

In spite of his breakout senior season, Washington hasn't received any additional recruiting attention, outside of some communication from Wake Forest.

Washington, who attended the Tar Heels' season opener against James Madison and the game against Miami, hasn't yet scheduled his UNC official visit.

"I was going to schedule [the official visit] for the Wake Forest game, but [the coaches] wanted to spend more time with not only me but also my parents," Washington said. "So we decided to wait until the end of the season. I'd like to do it in January, but we'll have to see."

Washington is considering attending UNC's season finale against Duke on Saturday, but he hasn't made a firm decision either way.

Not only was he the first prospect to verbally commit to UNC under interim head coach Everett Withers, Washington was the first recruit Withers decided to offer.

"Right now, I'm just hoping Coach Withers will stay there," Washington said. "But if something happens, I'll just have to figure out what I'm going to do. I'm not going to necessarily say I'll de-commit, but it would be something to think about. Carolina is still a great academic school and football school regardless who is coach."

If Washington does indeed sign with UNC in February, he will be the second consecutive prospect from Brown to do so – Travis Riley signed and enrolled at UNC last January. That pipeline may continue with the 2013 class as teammate Keeon Johnson possesses a UNC scholarship offer and lists the Tar Heels as his leader.

"I've known that Keeon already liked Carolina just as much as I do," Washington said. "I would like for him to come with me, but I want him to make his own decision. But I know he's a big Carolina fan."

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