August 21, 2009

Washington excited about new role

As a fifth-year senior linebacker, Marcus Washington knew his position like the proverbial back of his hand.

There wasn't a detail that he could not relay to younger teammates, who would often come to him for advice whenever they had an issue they couldn't understand.

Suddenly, the tables are turned.

"It's a little weird because you get set in a position. Linebacker was my home and I knew it back and front, front and back," Washington said. "I could teach the young guys but now with me switching positions I went to the one being taught. I went from the teacher to the student."

But he's not complaining.

Washington says he's hoping to seize upon his new opportunity as a chance to help out a position that was besieged by injuries a season ago.

"I think I've come along pretty good," he said. "I still have to get the technique down because it is a very technical position, so I've still got a lot to go. I'm just trying to get my feet wet and see if I can't make something happen."

At 6-0 and 257-pounds, Washington's stature is certainly different than most that play the position.

Most defensive ends range from anywhere between 6-2 and 6-5, but according to defensive ends coach Jon Fabris, being "short" may not be such a disadvantage as far as Washington is concerned.

"Certainly he's built lower to the ground than most players (at defensive end) and I think it can be an advantage. I've seen guys that were not particularly tall play high and guys who are tall actually get under your pads and actually have more leverage than a shorter guy, if they can get under their pads," Fabris said. "But offensive linemen sometimes aren't used to people of that height. It's something you're not used to seeing. It could be an advantage but not enough where they can't adjust to it. It's like getting used to a guy who throws one of those funky kinds of baseballs, you get used to it after a while."

Right tackle Clint Boling can attest to that.

Boling said Thursday he's had the opportunity to go against Washington a number of times in practice. He likes what he sees.

"He's hard to get your hands on him and with his speed from playing linebacker, he's tough," Boling said. "I can see him doing real well with his move to defensive end."

However, Fabris said that Washington will still have to adhere to the position's basic fundamentals if he wants to be successful at his new home.

That means - getting off the ball, playing with pad level, playing with leverage and playing with his hands.

"You don't do those things it doesn't matter how tall you are," Fabris said.

Either way, Washington doesn't intend to let his height be an issue.

"It could be my disadvantage or it could be my best friend," he said. "I'm just going to come out here and try to make it my best friend because in the game of football, the low man wins."

There is one other not-so-subtle change that Washington is adjusting to - playing in a three-point stance versus a two.

"The first thing is he's used to being in a two-point stance and being off the line," Fabris said. "Now, he's in a three-point stance and he has to attack quicker than a linebacker would."

Washington hasn't had long to pick up his new gig.

The first time he ever played defensive end was during Georgia's G-Day game in April, and was only moved there fulltime the first week into preseason drills when was moved over to defensive end.

"It started out as just an experiment, if you will, but I kind of liked it and we went from there," Washington said. "I'm just trying to make an impact at my new home."

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