Not often does the arena of college football see an athlete average 12 games played over the course of three seasons, yet not register a single start. Despite never gaining a starting nod in the secondary, senior Dallas Washington has undoubtedly been a key contributor while donning the Cardinal and White.
“I’ve been well prepared, and I know my time has come to step up and be a leader on this defense,” says Washington. “I’m going 150 miles per hour whether I’m starting or not, so don’t expect anything different out of me.”
Despite losing seven starters from last year’s defense, including all four starters from the secondary, Washington has hopes for the 2008 Razorback defense.
“Fundamentally sound football can take you a long way,” says Washington, the 6’0, 210-pound safety from Douglasville, Texas. “If the secondary does what it’s supposed to, everything else should fall into place defensively. I know we [the secondary] are a capable bunch, we just have to go out and prove it.”
Most Hog fans can recall at least one of Washington’s “150 miles per hour” moments. It came early during his sophomore campaign in 2007 — a first half kickoff against the University of Southern California.
On the heels of an Arkansas score, Razorback kicker Brian Vavra kicked off to USC return man Cary Harris. Harris made a couple moves to elude oncoming defenders and make his way up field, but met Washington at the 27 yard line where he came to an abrupt stop.
“I came down the field and saw him veer off to the right,” says Washington. “So, I sort of just left my lane a little bit and saw a hole. I got to him, and didn’t realize how light he was. I don’t know what I was thinking, I just got excited so jumped up and slammed him.”
Washington credits a lot of this on-field determination and excitement to staying home on Saturdays and watching college football as a youngster.
“I used to love watching Florida State,” says Washington, reminiscing about the days of sitting in front of a television as a high schooler in Atlanta. “The way they swarmed to the ball defensively and made plays helped me to fall in love with college football. That started my dream of one day playing college football.”
Though that dream had come true, after three years of special teams and spot defensive work, Washington had never quite settled in at one position. So he wasn’t surprised when new defensive coordinator Willy Robinson asked him to take snaps from a new “Jack” linebacker position that head coach Bobby Petrino had installed into the Arkansas defense.
“I took some snaps from up there,” says Washington. “It was different than what I’m used to. Some of the younger guys started progressing at that spot, so I went back to focusing on the secondary.”
Washington is able to carry his willingness, hard work and determination off the field into the classroom and the community. He was named a Hard Working Hog for the 2004-05 academic year, and was a member of the Lon Farrell Academic Honor Roll for Spring 2006.
As one of the veterans of the defensive backfield, Washington will be counted on to provide leadership in the secondary. Call him a special teamer, call him a safety, or call him “Jack.” The truth is, no matter what he’s been called or where he has lined up, Washington has done nothing but make plays.Expect more of the same as his senior campaign unfolds in 2008.