Darnell Washington stepped on the gridiron at 9-years-old with the dreams of becoming a star running back and eventually a quarterback, but it would be the tight end position, where Washington would flourish and become one of the top tight end prospects in recent memory.
Growing up in a large family as the youngest of eight kids, Washington always had an interest in sports. Washington has left his mark on the football field, basketball court and in the ring of the shotput at Desert Pines High School in Las Vegas, Nevada. Although Washington’s love for sports has pushed him to be a 5-Star tight end, it is the adversity Washington has had to overcome and continues to push through that Desert Pines assistant head football coach, David Hill, said will push him to be the best that he can be.
“He comes from poverty, but he works hard,” Hill said. “He is looking for a change. He knows this is his opportunity through athletics to change his generation and his families’ fortunes by being successful and doing the right things.”
At 6-8 and 261 pounds, Washington has reeled in more than 35 Division 1 football offers. Many are calling him the next big thing in college football with his freakish athletic ability for a guy his size. Titles and claims of such come with many distractions away from football and Hill said he feels it is pivotal Washington keeps his head on straight on and off the field.
“When you come from his situation, making sure you stay out of trouble is pivotal,” Hill said. “He does that. He stays away from drugs and alcohol. He is not a partier. Staying healthy on the field is also going to be very important for him. He is 6-8 now, so also making sure he is not getting any unnecessary injuries. We want him to take full advantages of his opportunities.”
When Jefferson first started coaching Washington, he was 6-4 at the end of his freshman year. Washington has grown an inch or two each year since then. Washington’s 6-8 frame looks to be the height Washington will enter college at as Hill has expressed the senior has not grown lately.
Alabama offered Washington on May 8, 2018, and have continued to recruit the 2020 prospect heavily. Alabama’s tight end coach, Jeff Banks, has kept the pressure on and has expressed the Tide really likes Washington. The 5-Star recruit currently looks like the perfect fit for Banks and Alabama’s new vision for the tight end position.
— Uno_Nelly (@_Dwfootball11) May 9, 2018
“We might witness some of the greatest tight end play from a pure tight end, being able to block and block in the C gap,” Hill said. He can take the top off the defense and create mismatches. He does not have to come off the field because he can not block. He is a complete tight end. He can run, he can block and he can catch. You can run your complete offense through him.”
Washington released his top 12 on May 27 and included the tide, but he has cut his top schools’ list down since then, according to Hill.
“His top schools are Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia, Miami and Penn State,” Hill said.
The Tide is expected to get an official from Washington and look to still be in the running for the highly ranked recruit, who is expected to cut his list down to four soon.
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Justin Smith is a Scouting/Recruiting analyst for Touchdown Alabama Magazine. You can follow him on Twitter, via @Jdsmith31Smith