As a highly touted prospect coming out of high school, University of Southern California running back Chauncey Washington didn't have the picturesque collegiate career that he had hoped for. For most of his career, Washington was either academically ineligible, recovering from injuries or playing back up to LenDale White and Reggie Bush. However, in his final two seasons Washington finally found his academics in order and the results could be seen on the field. No longer playing second fiddle to his old teammates, Washington racked up 1,713 yards and 19 touchdowns on the ground in his final two seasons at Southern California.
Washington is an interesting prospect because of the fact that he has the prototypical type of build that teams look for in a running back. At 5-foot-11 3/8, 211 pounds, Washington isn't a thumper, but he definitely isn't a small back. His coaches often praised his unique ability in relation to his size.
Todd McNair, his position coach at USC said, "He is more powerful than some of the smaller guys and more shifty than the big guys. He's got a unique power-speed combination."
Teams may shy away from Washington, however, because of his history with injuries as well as his academic troubles.
When healthy, Washington has been a reliable back. In his career his averaged 4.8 yards per carry. A tough runner, Washington does not waste much time in the backfield dancing and trying to make people miss, he hits the hole.
One thing that coaches definitely will love the most about Washington's game is that he protects the ball well while running through the hole. That's a big plus on his side as the draft approaches. Outside of his production, Washington is a great athlete; you have to be to be recruited by USC. Even though it would seem that backing up players like White and Bush would hurt Washington, if anything it should have taught him more about what it takes to prepare and perform like a professional running back should.
Unfortunately for Washington, there are a lot of "red flags" that pop up when taking a look at the full breadth of what he accomplished at USC. Injuries plagued him throughout college, from the very start. In 2003, a stress fracture in his ankle limited him. Forced to miss two consecutive seasons in 2004 and 2005 due to academic ineligibility, Washington returned in 2006. While he had an overall quality season, he was limited again by nagging injuries to his hamstring as well as his knee.
Though the injuries will be the major factor for teams come draft day, Washington's inability to keep himself eligible to play has to bring some character concerns into the picture as well. For two consecutive seasons he was unable to maintain a GPA high enough to allow him to play football. Generally, schools and coaches will go to great lengths to help players achieve a minimum GPA required to perform on the field.
Washington basically has hands of stone, doesn't run routes well and has notably shied away from blocking to the ability that his size would indicate he should be able to.
Expected Draft Placement
Washington impressed at his Pro Day by running the 40-yard dash at 4.35 and turned some heads. However, as of now he is unfortunately part of a large pool of running backs that could go anywhere from the fifth round to undrafted. Don't be surprised to see a team that doesn't land the back they wanted early on in the draft to take a chance on Washington. His resiliency to fight through injuries and academic ineligibility will probably warm the heart of some teams out there.
About Scott Lau
Scott Lau has been a KFFL contributor since 2006.
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