Chaz Washington: "Determined" Part 1

An exclusive interview with one of SC's top LB prospects in Richland Northeast High star Chaz Washington. His time has come and the RNE Cavalier is determined to show college coaches that he's among the top linebackers in the 2008 class. This interview was so extensive and enjoyable that we had to break it into two parts. Come inside and learn more about RNE's Chaz Washington.

Last weekend in Charlotte, North Carolina you could see it in his eyes. Chaz Washington was on a mission. A mission to stay focused and perform at the highest level that he could possibly at the All-American Combine. That focus and determination isn't turned on and off but it has become something that keeps burning inside the Richland Northeast High school star linebacker. That fire has upped Washington's stock as he turned in some superb numbers not just in regards to his linebacker position but overall against all of the athletes in attendance. kept a close eye on Washington at the combine and we later caught up with him to see just how things have been for the RNE star as of late.

That spark or fire we talk of when talking about Washington isn't just shown when it comes to football. Chaz Washington is one of those high school prospects that you encounter once in a blue moon. He's passionate about everything and it's refreshing to see. The young man is a delight to talk to and be around because of it. Measuring 6'1 183 pounds in Charlotte he came in just one pound heavier than he did during his testing in San Antonio during the U.S. Army All-American Bowl game this past season. Same height and a pound heavier but Chaz came in wanting to show the world he had stepped up his game since San Antonio.

In Charlotte he did just that. He shaved his short shuttle time down from 4.66 seconds in San Antonio to 4.34 seconds in the Queen City. He also ranked 2nd amongst linebackers in the 3 Cone Drill with a blistering time of 7.41 seconds. That time also was faster than all but 4 of the defensive backs in attendance. In the vertical jump testing he bettered his mark by almost a full 5 inches with a leap of 35.3 inches. His standing broad jump mark was an impressive 9 feet 4 inches which put him in the top 5 among his linebacker peers.

Washington had this to say about his time in Charlotte at the All-American Combines, "Man it was great. I'd do it everyday if I could." Asked if he was happy with his testing results he responded, "Yes sir, but there's always room for improvement." Opening eyes is something he wanted to do entering the combine and he accomplished that with a great overall performance.

At 6'1 183 pounds some may question his size at linebacker but make no mistake about it, college coaches envision him staying put on the next level. "From what I've been told and talking with college coaches most are recruiting me at outside linebacker. I've also told Clemson, Tennessee, and Virginia Tech that I would like to play a little bit of rover too."

His junior season was limited to just 8 games due to pretty significant high ankle sprain. In fact the game in which he suffered the injury is one of Washington's fondest. "I hurt my ankle against T.L. Hanna. They had RB Brian Maddox (SC signee) and the trainers kept telling me to sit the rest of the game out but I kept telling them that I was fine and needed to get back out there. I went back out on the second series and I finished that game with 14 tackles with that high ankle sprain."

Although his season was cut short you wouldn't be able to tell it from his stats last year. Washington had 70 tackles, 3 pass break ups, 4 forced fumbles, 4 recovered fumbles, and 4 sacks in those eight games. Now back at 100 percent Washington has outlined his goals for his upcoming senior season. "My goals are to help my team get back to the state championship even though I wasn't there when they played against Byrnes for the state championship. I have to step up and become a leader. I'm more vocal now and I'm trying to get everybody on my team on the same page. I'm focusing on just helping my team to be winners. When I'm flying to the ball on defense I've got God on my side. He's my teammates' and I partner on the field."

We asked Chaz to give us an analysis of what he felt made him such an outstanding linebacker. The energetic Washington said, "Basically I'm great at getting to the ball. It can be in front of me or 20 yards down field but I get there quick. I'm also a relentless player. I don't care how big my opponent is. Whether it's an offensive lineman, a running back, wideout, or quarterback I look at them as my enemy and I get after them with my all like it's my last game. When I'm on that field I want to be ferocious during each play like a rattlesnake mixed with a pitbull going all out."

As his junior year winds down the 2008 star has been putting in serious work to improve his game and looks from college coaches. That work hasn't gone unnoticed. "I just can't wait to get next season under way. I go into coach Frye's office and he says that he can see the fire in my eyes. I always make eye contact with him to let him know that it's on and I'm ready to go!"

Young players often look up to older players in the college or pro ranks for inspiration or techniques and Washington is no different. Two players have made a strong impact on his life to this point. "Ray Lewis and Ricardo Hurley are two guys that I look up to. Ricardo was out of Greenwood High and went to USC. I grew up a huge USC fan, attended all the games coming up, even last year still. I met Ricardo one day after a game they had against Ole Miss probably 2 years ago. When I would go to those games I'd focus my eyes on him because he played my position. I kept my eyes on him to learn and I would talk to him on the phone before and after games. We talked all the time and I learned a lot from him. I'd even chill on the weekends with him sometime and that all meant a lot to me."

A Closer Look At...Chaz Washington
Favorite Music Artists: I'm really feeling Tank, Lil' Wayne, Young Jeezy, and a rock artist by the name of Daughtry. He was on American Idol. I listen to his CD almost every morning. It inspires me to be a better person and to get out there and give it my all because it's my senior year next year.
Favorite Movies: I'm gonna have to say "Remember The Titans", "Friday Night Lights", and "Love & Basketball"
Favorite Foods: Steak, fried chicken, mashed potatoes, macaroni & cheese. Man I eat just about anything but soul food I can take that anyday.
Dream School: It would probably be Miami. Ever since Ray Lewis came out of there, they had a story about him and Miami when I was younger. Ever since then he's made me want to be a part of that program.

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