Previously: S Vlad Emilien, S Thomas Gordon, CB Justin Turner, CB Adrian Witty, LB Isaiah Bell, LB Mike Jones, LB Brandin Hawthorne, DT Will Campbell, DE Anthony LaLota, DE Craig Roh, OL Michael Schofield, and OL Taylor Lewan.
|St Stephen, South Carolina - 6'3" 315
|Scout||3*, #19 OG|
|Rivals||4*, #8 OG, #213 overall|
|ESPN||82, #6 OG, #81 overall|
|Others||#82 overall to TAKKLE|
|Other Suitors||South Carolina, Tennessee, Clemson, Miami (That Miami), Alabama|
|YMRMFSPA||Hopefully Steve Schilling, guard version|
|Only the shame of absence.|
Quinton Washington is the only interior lineman in Michigan's 2009 class, and he's a good one. The first indication of this was his All Combine performance at the Army game. This led to a nice set of early offers headlined by recruiting heavyweights Alabama and Miami. Though Michigan followed suit quickly, they appeared on the outside looking in until they started telling him he was made of fairy stars and linebacker evaporation magic. Art Craig, Timberland's head coach, in the aftermath of Washington's official visit:
"To my understanding, he's their number one lineman they are going after in the nation. That's point blank what coach Rodriguez told me Friday night."
Hello! The coaching staff's excitement over Washington's potential also found its way into this Toledo Blade article. The coaches are described as "raving" over Washington while they had "nice things to say" about the tackles. Since the tackles are good-looking prospects in their own right, well… hello!
That official visit lingered with Washington until the day before signing day, when he finally picked a school. Craig on the major factor that helped him along to Michigan:
“I think Grey Frey is the difference in him going to Michigan. Coach Gibson was his initial recruiter, but he has met his position coach since March or May of last year, whenever they first came. I think that was a big play for them and for him.”
This is a major feather in Frey's cap, as Washington was widely believed to be headed to South Carolina for reasons economic. Washington on his long term goals:
Washington said he’s motivated to improve so he can provide a better future for his parents.
“They mean a whole lot to me,” he said. “They have to work so hard. I just want to make it. I want to make it better for my parents so I can give back to my parents someday.”
For Washington to come to terms with his decision for Michigan he's had to accept his parents aren't going to be there every weekend. Craig:
He said, "we’ve come to terms with the fact that they're only going to see me play probably a couple of times."
Michigan made an argument powerful enough to overcome a lot of structural factors pushing Washington to South Carolina.
As to Washington's talent: though the recruiting services weren't quite as enthusiastic as Frey the reviews were largely positive. ESPN rated him highest, naming him the #6 guard in the country and placing him in their top 100:
Washington has all the tools to be an outstanding college guard. At 300-plus pounds, he moves his feet like a lightweight (or at least a light heavyweight). … Consistently gets to linebacker level when he's left uncovered and usually finds the defender. Sometimes releases a little high, resulting in his feet coming together and a loss of balance. Shows good athleticism for such a big player and is fluid when pulling. … He's a powerful down blocker, destroying the inside man and often burying him in the turf. He's equally devastating on double-team blocks. … Big and mobile, Washington will be a hot commodity among college line coaches.
There's that theme again: athleticism. What Taylor Lewan and Michael Schofield bring in 6'7" pass-protection packages Washington brings in a 6'3" linebacker-seeking guard's body. Later ESPN caught his performance at the Shrine Bowl and commented on that ability to get on those second-level defenders:
Washington played the whole game at right guard. We were impressed with his ability to drive block, his foot movement and ability to climb to the second level.
Bill Conley mentioned it too:
He is an impressive combination of strength and mobility. As good of blocker as he is up front, he is extremely fluid getting to level-two linebackers.
Given all those runs last year on which the line was creased but the gain was held down by poor second-level blocking, you can understand where the coaching staff is coming from when they say things akin to "Quinton Washington is the best thing that's ever happened to me."
Scout was the least enthused, giving him three stars. Washington's the #19 guard over there and the last four-star OG to is #13, so he's not even particularly close to that level in their eyes. I couldn't find any explanation for their point of view, nor for Rivals' uncertainty—they bounced him in and out of their top 250 all year.
“His feet are unbelievable for a guy his size,” Craig said. “He can reach you, he can down you, he can pull and go get somebody. He has unlimited potential.”
More from Craig:
"He's physically just so strong and quick at the same time," Craig said. "He's got good hip flexibility and moves well. And whatever you tell him, he absorbs it. He applies himself and he gets it the first time around."
"He has very quick feet and very good technique," said Timberland assistant coach Chris Pond. "He's very good with his hands and he's very strong."
Highlight reels of high school linemen are rarely useful unless you're a football coach, but since they feature 320-pound future collegians against 200-pound future accountants they are often hilarious. Washington hurls several gnats away from his body below:
May the gnats be as impotently annoying in college, Quinton.
Why Steve Schilling? I'd be lying if I told you my memory for Michigan guards goes farther back than the dawn of UFR. They've always been anonymous even when they were future NFL all-pros like Steve Hutchinson. So this comparison is flimsy, but Schilling's main asset is his mobility and hopefully his ability to maintain second-level blocks; Washington sounds like an even bigger version of this.
Etc.: Some more brief clips, though it's hard to make out which one is Washington in most.
Guru Reliability: Moderate. High variance.
General Excitement Level: High. It's clear the coaches were nuts about this guy and he's got the offers and recruiting mojo to back it up.
Projection: Though the coaches have suggested Washington might see the field this year—they think he's that ready—a redshirt makes more sense with Schilling's move inside solidifying the interior line. He'll have to fight Ricky Barnum to replace Moosman next year; if he loses that battle he'll be the odds on favorite to replace Schilling in 2011.