April 21, 2010
Tide gets strong, silent leader in Washington
The recent commitment of Jackson (TN) athlete Jabriel Washington gives the Alabama Crimson Tide one of the best prospects from the state of Tennessee for the class of 2011 and according to those close to the 5-foot-11, 165-pound star, the Tide are getting more than just a great football player. Trinity Christian Academy head coach Michael Hodum has watched Washington transform from the fastest kid on the playground into one of the top high school prospects in the nation and now expects to see great things from his superstar player at the next level.
"I first met Jabriel when he was in the third grade, running around on the playground with some kids who would later become his teammates. You could tell even then that he was talented and physically ahead of everybody else," Hodum said. "By the sixth grade, I decided to go to his parents and tell them I thought he was going to be a special player and that he ought to start getting ready. He's got so much athletic potential and I think he'll do really well as a corner in college but for me, I just had to have him touching the ball on every play so I made him our quarterback."
So far, that decision has worked out well for Trinity. Washington racked up 1,255 yards and 11 touchdowns through the air last season along with 867 yards on the ground. Playing primarily in the secondary on defense, Washington racked up 83 tackles, two interceptions and two fumble recoveries.
"Offensively and defensively for us he was the best player on the field. We don't get a lot of guys like him at a 1A school."
But Washington's on-field efforts are only part of the appeal according to Hodum, who lists Washington as one of the most impressive off-field leaders he's ever coached.
"Jabriel is very much a leader. He's a quiet guy and doesn't do a lot of talking on or off the field but he leads by example. The kids all rally around him. You'll never see a kid work harder than Jabriel and he's the kind of guy who knows when he needs to step up and make a big play."
"We're a Christian school and character comes first for us. Jabriel comes from a great family. His dad is an ex-Marine and his mom is a former Division I athlete so he grew up in a house where discipline was important. I think that has kept him humble and made him a great leader."
Washington's decision to commit to Alabama last weekend came as a surprise to some but Hodum said Washington's mind was made up for Alabama fairly early in the recruiting process.
"He has had a lot of offers for a long time. On September 1st last year they just started rolling in immediately. After that first wave of offers, Auburn, Alabama and USC came in and I think he really knew then that he pretty much had his choice of wherever he wanted to go."
"I think he always liked Alabama but as soon as he met Coach Saban, he was impressed. He liked Coach Saban's business-like approach. That really appealed to him and I think meeting Coach Saban probably sealed the deal for Alabama. Kids play football for a lot of different reasons but Jabriel plays because he's a competitor and he loves to win. I think he believes that out of all the schools that offered him, he has the best chance to win a national championship at Alabama and that's ultimately why he plays the game."
Washington is a member of the Rivals250 to Watch for 2011.
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