Washington Impressed with Penn State Visit

The North Carolina class of 2016 four-star running back said he saw something he usually doesn't on his trip to University Park.

Robert Washington's visit to Penn State was about football. But it wasn't.

A 5-foot-10, 205 pound sophomore running back at SouthLake Christian Academy in Hunterville, N.C., Washington has already landed 22 offers. Many of them can be credited to a sophomore season that finished with 2,512 yards rushing and 28 touchdowns.

In that sense, football helped James Franklin discover him when the now Penn State head coach was still at Vanderbilt. Football brought him to University Park Saturday with his cousin, freshman teammate Eric Gallman, and Gallman's father, too.

Washington didn't pick up his 22nd offer on the visit, but he did find something unique: football wasn't all his trip to Penn State was about.

"Every visit is not like that," Washington said. "Some visits are like football, football, football. But Penn State was about academics.

"Penn State was a good visit. I was having fun getting to know the coaches and seeing if I can fit their offense."

Franklin has quickly engrained his energetic and outgoing personality with recruiting at Penn State. So has his staff, which Washington said he noticed when speaking with running backs coach Charles Huff, offensive coordinator John Donovan, and receivers coach Josh Gattis.

It was evident, the back said, when Huff sprinted down the Holuba Hall practice turf for 40 yards to chase a running back in a ball security drill. He saw it again when Franklin explained that recruiting at Penn State is about rankings and stars, sure. But the head coach told him it's about something more than that, as well.

"Coach Franklin told me he's not just recruiting players cause they got four or five stars," Washington said. "They do, because they got the number two class for 2015. But he also said they look and see if a kid is a Penn State kid, and look to see if he can fit into Penn State.

"He said it's about relationships, and not all about rankings."

After practice, Huff and Washington spoke about Penn State's offensive attack. The coach told him it's a mix of zone and gap schemes, which the back said he appreciates not just because his high school runs it, but also because he believes the scheme would help him learn how to block and run should he be fortunate enough to reach the NFL.

Staying true to form, the first-year running backs coach and the North Carolina back didn't just talk football during their first meeting, though.

"He's a real cool dude, and fired up on the field," Washington said of Huff. "He's hands-on; he's not one that sits back and tells players what to do. That's good, because some guys learn by doing instead of just seeing something."

Notre Dame is the next program that will receive a visit. The trip, planned for Saturday, could be the last trip the runner takes this spring.

Washington said he plans to keep in touch with Penn State, just like its head coach did when changing schools. The back said the continued contact equals Franklin trusting in his abilities. After visiting, he trusts Franklin, too.

"It was a fun trip," Washington said. "It was a good time for everyone."

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