Huntersville (N.C.) SouthLake Christian running back Robert Washington is one of the top players in the 2016 class and one of Syracuse’s top recruiting targets. Washington visited the Orange over the weekend and had glowing things to say about his experience.
It started with a tour of the campus and the facilities.
”We also got to walk past the new indoor facility,” Washington said. “The facilities are great. The new indoor facility, I was talking with Eric White and he was telling me about all the dollars they’re putting into it. Syracuse is definitely a great place and the facilities are beautiful. We walked in the hallway of the athletic facility and saw the legend of 44.
”The Ernie Davis room had the legend of 44 with the gloves and everything. There was Jim Brown. I’ve watched ‘The Express’ millions of times so seeing that in person was pretty special.”
”I walked away thinking Syracuse is a place I can build my name at."
Being Washington’s first trip to Syracuse, checking out the entire campus was of critical importance. The four-star running back was impressed by what he saw.
”My thought of the campus was that it was nice,” Washington said. “I loved that Syracuse has a Dome. They have a nice indoor facility as well and they have a nice weight room. I felt comfortable there just talking to coach Smith and coach White and the head coach as well. I felt comfortable talking to coach Smith and getting to know all of those guys.
”I liked the academic buildings as well. It just had a hometown feel.”
Next was heading over to the Carrier Dome to watch Syracuse face the defending national champions. The Orange were not victorious, but Washington left with a very positive view of where the program is headed.
”It was good but Syracuse needs to capitalize a little bit more in the red zone,” Washington said. “They put up a lot of offensive numbers, 412 (yards) of total offense. It was good. They have some young talent. Number eight (Steve Ishmael), he’s a really good true freshman, the receiver. He’s a really good true freshman and the quarterback is really good.
"Syracuse is just missing a couple of pieces but they definitely played well against the number one team in the nation. It was a tough matchup but they played well. If they capitalize a little bit more in the red zone, it might have been a closer game or they could have actually beat them.”
During the game, while he was taking in the atmosphere, Washington was also paying attention to the Orange running backs to see how he would fit into their offensive system.
”I talked to coach Smith actually about watching those guys,” he said. “They run the zone-read, they get their backs out in space and throw it to them. They really utilize the types of players their backs are. I was talking to coach Smith about that. I really liked that a lot.
”You get the guy smashing up the gut or in the zone-read in space one-on-one with a corner or a safety and you beat him. You beat him with your feet and use your talent to get to the next level. It’s definitely something I can thrive in.”
Photo provided by Robert Washington
One of the key parts of the trip was getting to know the coaching staff. Washington has a strong relationship with recruiting director Eric White. Being able to meet the other coaches, specifically head coach Scott Shafer and running backs coach DeAndre Smith, were of critical importance.
”I talked to coach Smith and he’s a great guy,” Washington said. “He walked around with me the whole time. The head coach had to run but he still met me over there at the athletic facility. He introduced me to his wife and daughter. It was great to meet his family. He was welcoming to me.
”Coach Smith is a great guy. He’s funny and really welcomes you in. He’s a really good coach obviously and is taking those running backs to the next level. I felt comfortable around him.”
Photo provided by Robert Washington
The trip left Washington with a very strong impression of Syracuse. They continue to be a very realistic landing spot for one of the best backs in 2016.
”I walked away thinking Syracuse is a place I can build my name at,” Washington said. “It’s a place I could really thrive with my talents in their offense. They can make me better and help me really step up my game for the next level if I did get an opportunity to play in the NFL. Syracuse is definitely a legitimate option for me. Syracuse is definitely in the running for my decision.
”They’re definitely up there in my main, key focus schools. I don’t have any top schools right now. But they are definitely up there in the schools I’m thinking about when I cut my list down.”