Confident Washington Not Regretting Choice

Donald Washington left many Ohio State fans puzzled when he announced his decision to forgo his final football season and enter the NFL draft. Now that he's deep in draft preparation, a mature and confident Washington said he's comfortable with his choice and hoping to hear his name called in late April.

Donald Washington would have loved to have run the 40-yard dash at either the NFL combine or Ohio State's pro day in 4.3 seconds. He'd love to be a first-round draft pick set to sign a contact for millions of dollars.

But Washington, the former Ohio State cornerback, decided to leave the program early secure in the knowledge that those were not likely outcomes. Instead, he's hoping his focus and determination will allow him to end up in a situation in which he can thrive.

His performances so far could earn him a shot. After leaving school without a guarantee he'd even end up drafted, Washington did well at the combine by posting the best vertical jump and longest broad jump of any player tested.

At pro day he lowered his 40 time to just a shade under 4.5 seconds on some stopwatches. But Washington, who left the March 13 pro day with a few meetings scheduled with NFL teams, said he knows he's not close to being done with his pre-draft prep.

"I've talked to people," he said after pro day. "They tell me, 'You did a good job,' but there's a lot of guys who did a good job. I just want to do whatever I can to separate myself – interviews, meetings, whatever it has to be. That was good hearing feedback from the scouts, but it's still a long process.

"It's still a month from now to the draft. There's still a lot that can be done. A lot can be gained and a lot can be lost. Feedback is good but we still have to keep moving forward."

Washington, who was 6-0, 194 pounds when he suited up for his junior year at OSU, has approached the process with the confidence that he'll be able to make such impressions on those he would come across in the NFL world.

The direct manner in which he answered questions with the media throughout his draft journey should help him when talking to NFL teams.

"I know I'll make a good first impression," he said. "I think if they give me a shot, they'll be enlightened."

One of the questions he'll have to answer is why he spent the 2008 season as a reserve in all but two games, with one of his starts coming in the Fiesta Bowl for Ohio State.

The answer to that largely reflects back to the 2008 preseason. Washington first got in trouble during spring practice, finding himself out of some practices and relegated to third-string duties.

When fall camp came around, Washington was practicing but sentenced to a two-game suspension to start the year. Chimdi Chekwa took over and started for the rest of the season, though Washington was alternating series with Chekwa by the time the year ended and also playing on obvious passing downs.

Prior to 2008, Washington had earned plenty of playing time on Ohio State teams that reached national championship games. In 2006, he was the nickel cornerback and played outside with starter Antonio Smith moving inside, and he was the starter opposite Malcolm Jenkins throughout the 2007 season.

The successes he had – numbers that include 80 tackles, a sack and an interception returned for a touchdown – in the first two years helped Washington make his decision to turn professional.

"I don't forget about the two years before that I was starting, making plays," Washington said. "It's not like nobody's seen me. It's not like I'm just leaving school early after being a backup the whole year. That's not who I am. I made a couple of mistakes, got in some trouble and I had consequences. But I still feel like I came back and helped the team."

He finished the campaign with 22 tackles, an interception and a big fumble recovery that he returned 44 yards to set up a touchdown against Michigan State. However, those numbers have not guaranteed that Washington a spot in the upcoming NFL draft. Scout lists him as the No. 22 cornerback and the last three-star cornerback prospect in the group.

He spoke at length about whether he was comfortable with his decision to leave early now that he's deep into the preparation process and still unsure of whether he'll be drafted.

"I knew athletically I could compare to a lot of guys on the board," he said. "Does it make it any easier? The decision has been made so now that I look at it, it was the best decision. I can't say that it's made it any easier now because back then I knew how hard it was so it hasn't come any easier.

"I love everything about Ohio State. For anybody to say they didn't, I don't know what they were doing. Of course I'm going to miss this place, but for me I felt like I made the best decision and that was to give myself a shot at the NFL. That's what you come here to do.

"When I made the decision, I felt like it was the best, so there won't be any regrets. Now, will there be some thoughts like on the other side of the fence? I'm sure. I'm sure that the same thing happens to anybody who goes through this process. If you have to make a huge decision that impacts you in a strong way, there's always going to be second-guessing or whatever. But I know for a fact I won't regret my decision."

The April 25-26 draft sits just more than a month away, so Washington will find out his future either at that point or in the following days when undrafted free agent contracts are signed.

Until then, he's just hoping that he's done enough since leaving school for the phone to ring at any point in the draft weekend with

"For me to just pinpoint a round, I don't think there's a guy in the draft who doesn't want to be in the first round or a No. 1 pick. If you're a guy in this draft and you're settling to be a second round pick or a free agent, you're not giving yourself a fair shot. At least that's the way I see it.

"My goal is come draft day, somebody calls my phone whether that be in the first round – I would love for that to happen – or the seventh round on that day. There's a lot of guys that would love to have this opportunity."


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