The most telling question of a recent interview of Trojan running back Chauncey Washington doesn't come from WeAreSC, but from Washington himself.
If WeAreSC was going to interview a running back, why not interview Reggie Bush or Lendale White? Hershel Dennis, or even Desmond Reed? People can actually point them out on the field by their jersey numbers.
With spring ball underway, Washington, now a redshirt sophomore, stands at 6' 1", 215 lbs., with hardly any college playing time under his belt. He suffered an ankle injury against Hawaii in 2003 that sidelined him for the second half of the season. Then, academic eligibility issues caused him to redshirt the 2004 season. Most of what we know about Washington comes from his high school days. As a high school senior in 2002, he ran for 1,549 yards on 140 carries (11.1 yards average) with 23 touchdowns, and caught 13 passes for 200 yards (15.4 yards average), with five games remaining (which he missed due to a knee injury). As a high school junior, he ran for 1,975 yards on 225 carries (8.8 yards average), and had 22 catches for 273 yards (12.4 yards average).
On paper, Washington seems to be the complete package: "My style is not the same as the others…I believe that I have the ability to do everything. I have power and speed (he has clocked 4.47 40, and was a member of his high school track team)…I would compare my style to [Oklahoma's] Adrian Peterson."
Washington was ranked at least as high as number seven in his class of running backs when coming out of high school. Former offensive coordinator Norm Chow even speculated Washington might be the biggest star of the USC running back class that included Bush and White.
However, since entering USC, it has been Bush and White, also known as "Thunder and Lightning," who have, respectively, scissor-cut and pounded their ways to become the poster boys of the USC running game.
In the meantime, Washington has had to watch from the sidelines at the 2004 Rose Bowl, and viewed the 2005 Orange Bowl at home on the T.V. screen.
"It's been hard to watch, especially knowing I can help out as well," Washington reflects. Washington is quick to add that both the coaches and his teammates have been very supportive of him the past two years, telling him to keep his head up, and that he would get his chance in the spring.
This isn't one those cases of a high school superstar who came in and who didn't pan out. This is an athlete who due to injury and academic issues hasn't even had the chance to show the USC faithful what he can do. And assuming he stays healthy and keeps his nose in the schoolbooks (Washington says he feels much better about his classes these days, and regularly meets with tutors), Pete Carroll may have another running back in his arsenal to unleash on opposing teams.
While Washington's ultimate contribution to the Trojans on the field on Saturdays remains to be seen, it is clear that, at least as far as spring ball is concerned, he is emerging as a significant offensive weapon, making great plays on a daily basis ("I feel I'm at 100% and I'm excited"). Pete Carroll has even singled out his contributions in interviews.
What more do you need to know about this young man whose name many have yet to become familiar with?
His nickname is "C-dub." He wears number 23, his high school number 32 backwards. He has eight sisters, and one brother (he's the third oldest sibling). He watches the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air religiously ("on both the W.B. and TBS"). He is majoring in math, with a minor in computer science. His choice meal on campus is a peanut butter and jelly sandwich from the Galen Center ("you have to special order it, it's something most people don't know about"). He likes his eggs over easy. He does not sing in the shower. He grew up looking up to Bo Jackson, O.J. Simpson, and Barry Sanders. He has a Superman tattoo on his back. He is ambidextrous. He likes to play the video game "Fight Night." He has a black belt in Kempo (he's been training in martial arts since he was eight years old).
And if he has his way, you'll get to learn a whole lot more about who Chauncey Washington is this fall.
"Most people don't know me…don't even know my name…but I'm going to get my name out there next season…" Washington smiles.
We're looking forward to it, C-dub.