Cougar CB Washington comes in mentally ready

NOLAN WASHINGTON WAS part of a 14-signee influx of Cougar rookies who arrived earlier this summer at WSU. Whether he and others in the class redshirt in '09, or if they're ready to play now, is one of several intriguing questions with fall camp getting underway on Aug. 9. Cougar assistants Chris Ball, Jody Sears and Rich Rasmussen all had the same message for Washington this offseason, he says.

CF.C talked to Nolan Washington before he arrived on campus earlier this month. Among the topics, Washington said he had been working this offseason to be both physically and mentally ready to make an impact.

Months earlier, the 5-11, 175-pound cornerback was told by the WSU staff to get ready.

"Coach Razz was talking to me saying, 'Nolan, you've got to be mentally prepared to come in and play.' This was back in I believe in March," said Washington.

Ball also hammered the point home.

"Coach Ball told me he will be disappointed if I'm not playing against Stanford," said Washington. "I laughed and said, 'Aw, come on coach, I'll be coming in ready to play.' But he was really serious about it. He said, 'Nolan, I'm dead serious. Get ready.'"

A PAIR OF experienced corners left the WSU program this offseason in Romeo Pellum and Devin Giles but the Cougs still have playmakers on the island -- among them Washington's cousin, Brandon Jones.

Others with whom Washington will be competing against include Daniel Simmons, who came on strong towards the end of fall camp and the ultra athletic Tyrone Justin and Terrance Hayward.

"I've always been fine with if they redshirt me, you can use that year to get bigger, faster, stronger," said Washington. "But if they're going to give me the chance to play and earn it? I'm a competitor. And I'm going to go hard. I'm going to play my butt off.

"They have always told me I had a chance to play early, but if you're not ready we'll redshirt you. But now they've been talking to me about being mentally prepared to play -- 'If you're ready, we're going to play you.'"

PART OF WASHINGTON'S workout routine this offseason before heading to WSU, (and really since he was about 12 years old) was to work with his uncle, Lyndall Jones -- Brandon Jones' father. The elder Jones played for the Eagles and Falcons in the NFL after his collegiate fullback days at Hawaii.

"He's really taught me all those DB things over the years -- plant and drive, how to weave, how to backpedal, everything. I've been doing this thing since I was in the sixth grade and it's natural to me," said Washington.

WASHINGTON IS FOCUSED on cornerback but he's one of the few who has the read and react skills also required of a safety. And just for fun, might as well muse about throwing some offense to the mix as well.

"I wouldn't be surprised if they throw me on the offensive side of the ball just to see, hey, can he make a play. But I'm coming in at corner and will get my first chance there. But hey, I don't mind having the ball in my hands, I'll do that too," Washington laughed. "But I love playing corner, I can't lie."

WASHINGTON SAID HE'S been working on becoming more automatic when it comes to securing the ball on kicks and punts. But that hasn't stopped him from talking it up a bit with Jones this offseason.

"I've been talking to Brandon and telling him I'm going to come up there and take the punt return spot from him," said Washington. "He just laughs.

"Once I catch that ball, I feel like I can take it back anytime. But I have to catch it first. In college the ball goes a lot higher and farther and I need to get better used to it. I definitely want to jump in the return pile there at Washington State. And words can't really describe how excited I am right now."

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