The Hurry-Up: Former Buckeye Defensive Back Donald Washington Training Gabe Powers, Offer Day for 2023 Offensive Linemen, Penn State Offers Trey Bixby

By Zack Carpenter on July 23, 2020 at 6:30 pm
Donald Washington

The Hurry-Up is your nightly dose of updates from the Ohio State football recruiting trail, keeping tabs on the latest from commits and targets from around the country.

Former Buckeyes training Powers

On a smoking-hot Tuesday afternoon with barely a cloud in the sky and the slightest of breezes bearing down on them, Marysville (Ohio) linebacker Gabe Powers and a group of teammates are being pushed to their limits by the direction of a 6-foot, athletic figure on the Impact Stadium turf. 

That figure is Donald Washington, a former Ohio State cornerback who played in 38 games for the Buckeyes from 2005-2008 before being selected in the fourth round of the 2009 NFL draft. Right now, he is cycling Powers through hip, footwork and change-of-direction drills, with today being the latest workout Washington is putting him through since the two linked up toward the end of 2019. 

In addition to Olympic gold medal winner and former Ohio State sprinter Butch Reynolds, Washington is one of two former Buckeyes who has been training Powers in the offseason and guiding one of Ohio State’s highest-priority targets in the 2022 class into his ascension to becoming the No. 2-ranked outside linebacker in the country. 

Doing ladder work, drills in which he flips his hips as many times as possible in a short amount of time, five-yard explosions and plenty of sprints with Reynolds and Washington is all morphing into an impactful evolution for Powers as he prepares for his role the next two seasons at Marysville – a role that will likely have him dropping into pass coverage a lot more, which he'll need to be able to do in college, as well. 

“They’ve helped me a lot. That’s probably the best coaches and trainers you can find out there,” Powers tells Eleven Warriors. “Just with Butch, the training and the mindset he has, he’s all around. It’s great coaching. (Washington) works the hips and the footwork, which works the speed and the explosion. You couldn’t find two better trainers. 

“They change your mindset a lot when you get around them because they’ve been at the highest levels. One’s won a gold medal, the other’s been in the NFL. They’ve seen those things. They know the challenges. As far as a mindset, they get you ready for it.”

Gabe Powers and Donald Washington
Former Ohio State defensive back Donald Washington watches Gabe Powers during one of their training sessions at Marysville (Ohio) High School.

That work is helping to supplement the natural gifts and athleticism Powers has possessed for a long time. Even as a sixth-grader, Powers was able to dunk a basketball – with picture proof provided to us by his dad, Mike Powers, showing us old videos of him slamming home one-handed dunks off an alley-oop and then a pair of one-handed jams on breakaways at seventh-grade summer basketball tournaments.

Washington noticed Powers’ potential and abilities pretty much right away when he began working with him, and his thoughts on how good Powers can be have only grown stronger. 

“His overall comfort in space is getting better. I see him just becoming a more comfortable, better overall athlete,” Washington told Eleven Warriors. “When you hear the term linebacker, you think of a bigger, slower, stiffer guy. But Gabe’s got good hips and good feet, he’s light on his toes a little bit. He can handle his body well to be so big. And I tell him that all the time. I’m not saying nothing on this interview that he ain’t heard me say already. I keep it real with him. What you see is what you get.”

And what Powers gets from Washington is what the former NFL corner says “is just a genuine perspective of the pass game.” 

Washington does not claim to be any sort of defensive back guru, but he’s played a lot of football and has a lot of experience in the secondary. He’s seen how the game has evolved and is able to bring that knowledge to the table when teaching Powers and his teammates. 

“In college football and the NFL now, it’s a passing game,” Washington said. “Sometimes defensive linemen are even dropping into coverage. At least one of the linebackers has to cover every play. The offense’s job is to find a mismatch; to try and find someone on defense that can’t cover and who aren’t good in space. For me, it’s about giving everyone tools and getting them comfortable to go out there in coverage – not telling them what to do but just helping them be comfortable out there in coverage. That’s all it is. It’s not handicapping them or telling them there’s one way to do things. I’ve learned a couple ways to play coverage so it’s just giving back.”

Washington is also able to give Powers some background information on the technical side of being a defensive back. 

“I’m a corner so the terminology we use is a little different,” Washington said. “A lot of what we do is deep-thirds, but with a lot of these guys – especially Gabe – is an under-deep dropper. For me, it’s getting to my drops fast, being under control, having good balance, playing with good vision. I know for a lot of guys, when they’re doing individual workouts away from the team, it’s just drill work, and it’s like we’re racing against the clock. It’s all against time. We try to do a lot of stuff that’s just really relative to football; something that they can take from here and directly relate it to the game other than just drill work that looks cool for social media.”

Washington believes “the sky’s the limit” for Powers’ future and that he’s just “trying to get him some tools to help get him there,” Washington says.

“I’m not the guru. I’m not the final destination. I’m just helping,” Washington said.

As for Powers’ future, there were rumors in the spring that he was on the verge of committing, but Powers never made a commitment to any school.

Whenever it does actually happen, many expect the final decision to be Ohio State. That contingent includes Washington, who playfully shouts “I expect it!” with a wide grin as Powers smirks while answering questions on how he handles expectations from people who think he will eventually choose the Buckeyes.

But nothing is set in stone, as Powers plans to remain patient with his college decision until he can take visits. Whatever college does land him, though, will be able to thank Washington and Reynolds for helping shape him.

Offers for 2023 linemen

Heading into Thursday, the Buckeyes had only offered one prospect in the 2023 class and had not offered any prospect in any class since offering 2022 defensive lineman Khurtiss Perry on June 17. 

Both of those streaks ended on Thursday, as the Buckeyes have extended offers to a pair of 2023 offensive tackles out of Florida:

  • TJ Shanahan, a 6-foot-5, 300-pounder from Timber Creek High School in Orlando. Shanahan holds more than 20 offers, highlighted by Florida, Florida State, Georgia, LSU, Miami, Oregon, Tennessee and USC.
  • Clay Wedin, a 6-foot-6, 275-pounder from Florida, Florida State, Georgia, LSU, Miami, Michigan, Penn State, Tennessee and USC.

Shanahan and Wedin join Los Alamitos (Calif.) quarterback Malachi Nelson as the only three players with Ohio State offers in the 2023 class.

Penn State offers Bixby

We just recently dove into the recruitment of Cleveland strongside defensive end Trey Bixby, the nation's 13th-ranked player at the position and a borderline top-200 overall player, on Tuesday. 

Bixby detailed to us some of the programs that he has been offered by and who has been showing interest in him, and that included relationships he has been maintaining with several Big Ten programs. In addition to Ohio State, one of those programs is Penn State, and on Wednesday, the Nittany Lions officially came calling with an offer for Bixby.

As far as Ohio State goes, an offer does not appear to be around the corner quite yet, as the coaches have told Bixby they would like to see more film on him before moving forward with an offer. Be on the lookout for Bixby during his junior season at St. Edward High School. 

Top photo: Donald Washington

View 5 Comments