With so many new contributors this season, we're taking a closer look at a handful of the key newcomers. Today's subject is wide receiver Taurian Washington, who really just wants to catch bombs this season.
|Taurian Washington||WR / #5|
|6-2/179 - JR - St. Marys High School (MI)|
Despite playing his high school ball in Michigan's backyard, Taurian Washington was a Buckeye fan. Today, he's playing for the team he always wanted to play for, but there was a little bit of sweating out of both sides on the way to making that a reality.
As a wideout for Orchard Lake St. Mary's1, Washington started to gain attention his junior season when he picked up offers from Illinois, Iowa, Michigan State, Oregon and others on the way to 40 receptions for 893 yards and 13 touchdowns. Later that year, he showcased his burners as part of an OLSM 4x100 relay team that set a state record2. By now, his offer list had swollen to include Penn State, Wisconsin, Purdue and others. Michigan got into the act by offering Washington at their junior day that year and Carr enlisted Ryan Mallet (he was like 13 quarterbacks ago) to help pitch Washington on the merits of becoming a Michigan Man. Washington still didn't have the Buckeye offer he coveted and many recruitniks considered him a future Wolverine.
In the summer of 2006 Washington attended Michigan and Ohio State's camps. Though there were rumors he had a case of the dropsies at Michigan's camp, he performed well enough in Columbus to earn an offer from the Buckeyes. He didn't wait long to act. On July 26, word of his commitment to Ohio State was leaked by... his grandma. Though Washington and his father waited a bit to make it official, the cat was out of the bag so to speak, and Washington would be the 2nd OLSM player in two years to sign with Ohio State (Aaron Gant being the first).
With his college choice out of the way, Washington was free to focus on his senior football season and he teamed up with fellow wideout and future Seminole Dionte Allen to form a devastating receiver corps with future Boilermaker (and academic casualty) Justin Siller slinging the ball. Unfortunately, he missed some time due to a knee injury and his numbers slipped a bit to 30 receptions for 500 yards and eight touchdowns. The Eagles similarly suffered, losing a heartbreaker to Brother Rice during the regular season and then finally getting bounced by Walled Lake in the state playoffs.
After arriving at Ohio State for summer work in 2007, he immediately caught the attention of some of the veterans as Freeman and Jenkins both singled him out for excelling in 7-on-7 drills. His buzz was amplified a bit when he showed some jets catching a 37 yard touchdown strike from Antonio Henton in the opener against Youngstown State. That would be the highlight of his freshman season, however, as he only appeared in four other games, logging a total of 27 minutes (with most of the minutes earned on special teams).
Washington stole the show at the 2008 spring game, leading the Gray squad with four catches for 71 yards, including a 51 yard touchdown strike from Bauserman. Of note is the fact that he also had another score, on a 63 yard bomb, also from Bauserman, but that was called back on an offensive holding penalty. Following up this performance, he stepped out as a Greg Oden clone at the team's media day and was poised for even bigger things, especially with teammates gushing about how well he caught deep balls.
The 2008 season came and though Washington traded in #19 for #5 and earned his first letter, he failed to record a reception and saw the bulk of his 28 minutes come as a special teamer. The prevailing wisdom was that he needed to work on picking up coverages and becoming more consistent as a receiver to earn more snaps, but I couldn't have been the only fan wondering what he might do to help spark a sometimes stagnant group of receivers last season.
T-Wash was up for another round of spring game heroics in April when he led all receivers with 92 yards on four catches. Nearly half of those yards came on a bomb over Chekwa, or as he's sometimes known, Ohio State's top cornerback heading into this season. Ratchet up the hype meter again, please.
So what does this mean for 2009? Washington will surely evoke some Bam Childress chatter, but the fact that he scored a touchdown on his first reception and has blown up in the only two spring games he's played in3 leads me to believe he could be a difference-maker if he's on the field. He probably runs in the 4.6-4.7 range and having someone that can stretch the field and can keep the safeties off Pryor is a good thing.
As for now, Ray Small's purgatory has given Washington the chance to develop a rapport with Pryor and he should be the third receiver when the offense meets Navy next weekend. He'll have to keep working, though, because when Small eventually emerges from his doghouse, he's just electric enough to keep Washington buried in the fourth spot.
- 1 OLSM also recently produced Morgan Trent and Kalin Lucas.
- 2 The team: Washington, Dionte Allen (FSU), Aaron Gant (OSU) and Anthony Bowman (Iowa). Four future FBS skill players.
- 3 I mean, really, the guy scores touchdowns on like 78% of all balls thrown his way.