August 17, 2011

A 'Will' to succeed

Now that he's stepping in at Will linebacker for former teammate Justin Houston, one big question remains for Georgia junior Cornelius Washington.

Can he have the same type of success as the current Kansas City Chiefs rookie, who last year led the Bulldogs with 10 sacks?

Washington isn't making any predictions, but he's certainly hopes that will be the case.

"I think I'm capable of having the same kind of stats," Washington said. "I'm happy and proud that Coach (Todd) Grantham put me in the position to be in that spot to make plays. I'm happy he's got the trust in me to go out and do it. It's given me the motivation to work a little harder."

At 6-foot-4 and 269-pounds, Washington is a physical freak for the Bulldogs, having started nine games over the course of his Georgia career, including eight last fall at Sam where he collected 24 tackles and recorded one sack.

"He's one of the guys you want to get off the bus first," head coach Mark Richt said. "He's built well; there's a few like that."

Although there's certainly no questioning Washington's physique, how will he respond on the field?

With the addition of Jarvis Jones, Grantham decided to slide the Southern Cal transfer over to Sam, giving Washington the opportunity to excel at a different spot on the field.

Washington has spoken with Houston who has given him some helpful tips.

"I've asked him how he was getting off the ball so quick, and he told me it was just simple stuff, although when you're playing, you don't really think that's what it is," Washington said. "But it's really just simple moves, simple techniques, things we work on in practice all the time, things that Coach Grantham teaches us. I've finally realized if you listen to the coaching it will pay off eventually."

Being more comfortable with the 3-4 scheme has also had an impact on Washington's comfort level.

"I had my hand in the dirt for a while, so coming out of that I was … I just didn't know," he said. But now that I've been in the system, I know what's going on for the most part. I'm not saying I know everything, but I know more than last year. If you know stuff you can play fast; that's what defense is all about - playing fast, getting to the ball and making hits."

Washington will get to show how well he's adjusting later this afternoon when the Bulldogs hold their second scrimmage of the spring at Sanford Stadium.

The former Burke County standout missed Georgia's first scrimmage after injuring his hamstring early in camp before being cleared to return to practice four days ago.

"He's moving around pretty well. He's had a high level of energy," said Richt, who isn't concerned about the time Washington has missed. "For those veterans, usually a short time away is not that big of a problem."

Washington said he tweaked his hamstring during cone drills.

"I bet down to pick up a cone and it just popped," he said. "There was a lot of pain at first, but the next couple of days it started to go away."

He reports no issues with the sore hammy now.

"Oh, I'm fine," Washington said. "I'm just ready to show what I can do."

Anthony Dasher is the managing editor for UGASports
and he can be reached via email at [email protected]