August 27, 2010

Washington hopes his time is now

COLUMBUS, Ohio - There isn't a soul on the Ohio State football team's roster that doesn't want to make their contribution to the team on the field. And then there is senior wide receiver Taurian Washington.

Washington has been on the verge of being a major part of Ohio State's offense for quite some time, and heading into his senior season that looks to be the case again.

In his final shot to be a playmaker for the Buckeyes, Washington is hoping for that storybook ending. Maybe "hoping" isn't a strong enough word.

"Extremely bad," Washington answered when asked how much he wants to contribute. "This is my last year, my last go-around. I have no other choice. I want it extremely bad."

All Washington has to do is look back a year from now to find himself in a similar position to what he is in now - heading into the regular season as Ohio State's No. 3 receiver.

But after starting Ohio State's 2009 opener against Navy as the No. 3 wide receiver, a few mental errors and drops later, Washington vanished from the field for the majority of the remainder of the season.

Washington's decent on the depth chart even had him mulling a potential transfer out of the program. This year could be different, though.

Deciding to return for his senior season and give it one more shot, Washington has already come on strong in his final fall camp as a Buckeye.

While Washington did have a few drops in Saturday's jersey scrimmage - a pattern we have seen out of Washington dating back to last year - he moved forward and caught a 25-yard touchdown pass from Terrelle Pryor.

It was the biggest play of the jersey scrimmage for the Buckeye offense, which eventually won. It may have meant even more to Washington.

"I had a couple drops in the beginning but I basically kept focusing," Washington said. "My main thing (was) blocking and trying help us win the jersey scrimmage. (After the first drops) I was basically onto the next. I really didn't think about it anymore and just told myself that I need to keep playing and make up for those."

Washington's success during the regular season has been limited since he hauled in a 37-yard touchdown pass against Youngstown State in 2007 in his first game in college. Since then, though, Washington has only caught two passes.

In the spring, Washington has always excelled. He has caught touchdown passes in each of the last three spring games for the Buckeyes and he hauled in the game-winning 45-yard touchdown catch from Kenny Guiton with less than a minute remaining in the game last April.

Though Washington's big-play heroics continued into last weekend's jersey scrimmage, he understands that Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel is looking for consistency.

And if Washington can't provide it, the coaching staff will find someone who will during the regular season. With some youngsters coming on strong in Chris Fields and Cory Brown, the Buckeyes have options.

"Taurian has been around long enough to know that (making big plays in the spring and fall) is wonderful, but if you don't do it tomorrow in practice, or the next day, you have to be good ongoing," Tressel said. "But I've been very pleased with Taurian."

The Buckeyes open their season Thursday night against Marshall in Ohio Stadium, where Washington will most likely make his trot onto the field with the first team offense in 3-wide sets.

Washington has been a consistent deep threat for the Buckeyes all of fall camp, and Tressel has noticed. Now it is on Washington to hold onto this job, especially given he was unable to do that a year ago.

"I think Taurian has had a solid preseason," Tressel said. "He knows what he's doing."

Ari Wasserman is a staff writer for He can be reached at [email protected].

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