Critical 20: No. 4 DeAndre Washington

Like any football team, Texas Tech has several players whose performance will be particularly critical to the squad's success. These players, whether by virtue of experience, leadership, importance of the position played, depth concerns, or sheer talent, are especially crucial. They may or not be the best players on the club, but they would be very conspicuous were they absent for any reason.

When former Texas Tech offensive coordinator Neal Brown was assessing Tech’s 2011 recruiting class he stated the player in it who was being most overlooked was DeAndre Washington.

It was a great class producing the likes of Jace Amaro, Pete Robertson, Le'Raven Clark, and Alfredo Morales, but Brown’s statement proved pretty darn accurate—Washington is one big year away from exceeding expectations and finishing his career as one of the best running backs in school history.

If he accomplishes nothing else, Washington proved that Texas Tech could produce a thousand-yard rusher in the age of the spread offense. And before he turned the trick, it was beginning to look like a doubtful thing! Washington darted to 1,103 yards last season, becoming the first Red Raider to crack the thousand-yard barrier since Ricky Williams did it in 1998.

Williams’ big season came during the Spike Age when the Red Raiders ran lots of power-I. You don’t see that too often in the Tech camp these days.

Adding to the impressiveness of Washington’s 2014 campaign, he averaged a frosty 5.9 yards per tote and caught 30 passes, averaging 11 yards per grab, which is a tremendous number for a running back. Washington also developed into a solid pass blocker.

Now, four seasons into a career that was limited by injury in the early going, Washington has 1,919 rushing yards and 83 receptions for 706 yards. He should finish his Red Raider days with over 3,000 rushing yards and 1,000 receiving yards, which would put him in select company as Taurean Henderson (2001-05), who finished his career with 3,241 rushing yards and 2,058 receiving, and Ricky Williams (1997-2001), who racked up 3,656 rushing yards and 1,151 receiving, are the only Red Raiders currently in the 3,000/1,000 club.

Factor in Washington’s credible work in the classroom (he’s a two-time second-team Academic All-Big 12 performer), and his clean slate as a citizen, and his importance to the Tech program as it stands is obvious. The only question may be, why isn't he even higher than No. 4?

Depth. That’s why.

If the Red Raiders are loaded at any position, it’s running back. Aside from Washington, who will be a preseason All Big 12 pick, and should contend for All America honors, there is speed demon Justin Stockton who may have every bit as much pure talent as Washington. Then there’s redshirt freshman Demarcus Felton who looks rather like a DeAndre Washington starter kit. Throw in Quinton White, a good runner in his own right who’s now slated for fullback duty, and the house is full. And that’s not even counting incoming frosh Corey Dauphine who may be Tech’s best running back prospect since Byron Hanspard.

So Washington has more than ample support. But this is Washington’s year. He’s paid his dues, he’s rung the bell, and he’s been a credit to the program. Now is his time to put it all together and power the Red Raider offense to the supremacy it enjoyed not all that long ago.

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