October 8, 2008

Jack of all trades picks Rebels

Demond Washington's commitment to Ole Miss came as a surprise to many on Tuesday.

It probably shouldn't have.

Washington, a 5-foot-9 , 185-pound running back/cornerback/return specialist from Tallassee, Ala., and Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, wants an opportunity to play running back at the college level and he wanted to play in the Southeastern Conference. Ole Miss promised that chance and obviously presented that opportunity.

"They gave me an opportunity to play a position I wanted to play," said Washington, who rushed for more than 1,400 yards and 14 touchdowns last season. "I can be elusive and dynamic and I can be a power runner, too."

Washington, a three-star prospect as ranked by Rivals.com, is Ole Miss' 11th verbal commitment for the 2009 signing class.

This season, Washington has been used primarily on the defensive side of the football.

"I love defense just as much as I love offense, but I'd rather play offense," Washington said.

His coach at Gulf Coast, Steve Campbell, believes he could excel on either offense or defense.

"He's a great player," Campbell said. "He's an SEC player, there's no question. He's the kind of athlete where he could help on either side. I think he could be a great tailback. He could be an inside receiver. He runs the football like a 220-pounder. He runs strong and he has tremendous speed. Right now, we can't afford to move him off defense. He's a good cover corner and I know he'll help on returns. If people kick it to him, he's a threat to take it to the house at any time. He's a dual-threat type guy. He's the kind of athlete that wherever they need help, he has the speed to do it."

Already this season, Washington has returned three punts for touchdowns.

"I love punt returns," Washington said. "I love it because it's a big part of the game. It can change the game real quick. You're one guy with 11 guys coming at you. It's time to show your talents and what you can do."

Washington was also being recruited Louisville, Minnesota, Ohio, Memphis, Alabama, Troy, UAB and Southern Miss. However, he said his mind is "pretty made up right now."

All that's left is deciding when he'll start his career at Ole Miss. If he can complete six online hours, Washington could enroll as early as January. Otherwise, he'll graduate from Gulf Coast in May and arrive in Oxford in June. Either way, he feels his experience in junior college has helped him be prepared for the rigors of the college game.

"It's helped me a lot," Washington said. "It's gotten me used to the game and it's helped me in the classroom."

Washington said he'll be in Oxford on Nov. 1 when Ole Miss entertains Auburn. He'll take his official visit to Ole Miss sometime after the season.

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