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Raiders need Washington to be the man at RB - and he can't wait

Williams move creates opportunity for a new feature back

Posted: August 11, 2014 - 5:03pm  |  Updated: August 12, 2014 - 12:02am
The move of Kenny Williams to defense cleared the way for DeAndre Washington  (21) to have the spotlight in Texas Tech's run game.  (FILE)  Stephen Spillman / AJ Media
Stephen Spillman / AJ Media
The move of Kenny Williams to defense cleared the way for DeAndre Washington (21) to have the spotlight in Texas Tech's run game. (FILE)
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DeAndre Washington didn’t do anything differently this summer to get ready for a football season that, for him, figures to be quite different.

Washington is expected to be the No. 1 option in the Texas Tech running game for the first time, and there’s not much of a safety net. He’s a junior, and the Red Raiders’ only other potential tailbacks are a sophomore and a couple of freshmen.

“I’m ready,” Washington said last week. “I’ve never been so excited. I’m as healthy as I’ve ever been since I’ve been here. Things happen for a reason. I’m just looking forward to take advantage of it.”

The 5-foot-8, 201-pound junior from Sugar Land Marshall rushed for 366 yards in 2011, suffered a torn knee ligament at the end of that year that led to a redshirt season in 2012 and returned to run for 450 yards in 2013.

The fact Tech coaches let two-time rushing leader Kenny Williams move to linebacker in the spring was an endorsement of Washington, both his talent and the soundness of his right knee more than 21/2 years removed from surgery.

“I think it comes down to just opportunity,” he said. “I waited for this moment since I’ve been here, being able to be the guy. Now it’s finally here and I’m looking forward to it. I’m ready. Ready to go.”

Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury has said over and over that the 5-11, 228-pound Williams is just a finger wag away from returning to offense if the need arises. He rushed for more than 1,300 yards and 13 touchdowns the last two years.

That’ll depend on Washington handling the increased workload — he’s averaged 92 carries a season in a complementary role — and the Red Raiders being able to develop reliable depth. They probably need two of the three among sophomore Quinton White and freshmen signees Justin Stockton and Demarcus Felton to be playable.

Kingsbury said he was encouraged by what he saw from Washington and White in the spring when they had most all the carries to themselves.

“DeAndre and Q both had really bright moments,” he said.

Tech has used three or four tailback types every season since 2009, so it’s likely at least one of the freshmen will play.

Stockton was a two-time 2,000-yard rusher at big-school power Cibolo Steele, not to mention a sprinter who twice qualified for the state meet. Felton rushed for 1,700 yards last season for Spring Dekaney.

“There’s a chance that both of them will play,” running backs coach Mike Jinks said. “Both of them have shown throughout the summer that they’ve got some unique ability.”

Washington said he’s trying to mentor the newcomers the way former Tech running back Eric Stephens did for him.

“I’ve been in their position before,” he said. “I know what it is adapting from the high school level to the college level, so (I’m) being there, doing what I can to help those guys out.”

don.williams@lubbockonline.com

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