HUNTERSVILLE It’s hard to imagine a football player getting a college scholarship offer before he ever takes a snap in a varsity game.
But SouthLake Christian sophomore Robert Washington has begun building a resume for himself that supports the heap of Division I offers – and the accolades – that made him a middle school phenom and now a bona fide high school star.
Washington, who had open-heart surgery three years ago and prepared himself for a life without football, is one of the premiere running backs in the area, and proved it yet again on Friday night, rushing for 202 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 20 carries as the Eagles spotted High Point Christian a 10-0 lead before steamrolling the visitors 53-16.
Washington, who recently de-committed from a scholarship to Mississippi State, said he has nine scholarship offers, including offers from North Carolina, N.C. State, UCLA and Ole Miss. He also says Mississippi State is not out of the running.
It’s easy to see what college coaches like.
Whether he’s running off-tackle or around the end, Washington’s deceptive quickness and his field vision often make his runs look easy. Heading into Friday night’s game, the 5-foot-10, 195-pounder with 4.5 speed in the 40, had amassed 420 yards and seven touchdowns in two games. His season totals now stand at 622 yards and nine touchdowns on 65 carries.
“I’ve seen him make cuts and run through holes you don’t even see, they’re inches, maybe,” says fellow sophomore Connor O’Donnell.
“I like to think I have a good mixture of power and speed,” said Washington, who scored on a 15-yard run with three minutes left in the first quarter on Friday that gave the Eagles a 14-10 lead. Washington prides himself on getting tough yards, but the more noticeable aspect of his game is his ability to break a big play from anywhere on the field. Half of his 20 carries on Friday went for 10 yards or more.
The other noticeable thing about the talented sophomore is that he’s so elusive he rarely takes a big hit. On sweeps, he’s turning the corner and gaining positive yards when it looks as if there’s no running room. On plays up the middle, he’s breaking into the secondary before any linemen can get their hands around him.
When Washington wasn’t running for big gains, quarterback Luke Lancaster was connecting with O’Donnell, Eric Gallman and Aapri Washington, each of whom scored on long plays to widen the lead before the starters went to the bench for good with 11 minutes to play in the fourth quarter.
And backup signal-caller Riley Zayicek and receiver Cody Cox got in on the action too, connecting on a 71-yard pass play late in the game.
Coach Bub O’Donnell knows the win was a team effort. He also knows his star player is Robert Washington.
“He’s a kid that’s nationally traveled,” O’Donnell said. “No game is too big for him.”
The only thing that nearly got the best of Washington was a heart valve issue that shocked the family three years ago, in between Robert Washington’s MVP awards in junior All-American games before his seventh and eighth grade school years.
“We had come to grips he’d never play football again,” said Robert Washington Sr. “But he was humbled by the heart thing. It made him stronger in his faith. It made him work harder. It made him appreciate things more. It might have been the best thing for him.”
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