Once injured, Washington is all conference

[cleeng_content id="362750664" description="Read it now!" price="0.49" t="article"]Even with reduced quickness and a diminshed running speed caused by a foot injury incurred last season, Shepherd senior free safety Corey Washington was still rewarded by the Mountain East with first-team All-Conference honors.

To see Washington perform in 2013 after what he could do with the Shepherd defense in 2011 and his limited, injury-free time last season was to see a player whose intelligence, experience and unequaled anticipation sense had surpassed his athleticism and natural abilities.

Corey Washington

Corey Washington

It was only the second game of the 2012 season when the Rams were playing at home against American International. Washington would be badly injured.

He had already blocked a punt in the game, reaffirming his place as Shepherd’s most effective player on its punt return special team. In just over five quarters of the 2012 season, Washington had nine tackles (six solo), two stops for lost yardage, two blocked kicks and one interception.

And then he was hurt. It was a foot injury that would keep him out for the rest of the season.

Shepherd applied for a medical redshirt for the All-WVIAC free safety.

The NCAA allowed Washington to have a legitimate senior-year season here in 2013.

When D.J. Scott, Keon Robinson and Bryan Blue — all with remaining eligibility — failed to return to the Shepherd defense, the presence of Washington in the middle of the secondary was a real comfort.

This is the 5-foot-9, 198-pound graduate of Edison High in Alexandria’s fourth year as a real contributor to Shepherd’s annual success.

His freshman year was spent mostly on special teams.

As a sophomore, he started all 13 games when the Rams won three postseason playoff games and went to the Division II national semifinals as one of only four teams left standing.

He was selected to the All-WVIAC second-team because of his 84 tackles, five interceptions, three blocked kicks, three forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries.

Then in 2011 as a junior, Washington moved forward to the first-team All-WVIAC squad because he had a team-high 57 tackles, three interceptions and one blocked punt.

After being forced to watch the final nine games of the 2012 season, Washington is again the anchor of Shepherd’s defensive secondary.

As the Rams thundered through their regular season with 10 straight wins, he was a pivotal part of presenting opponents with one of the statistically-best defenses in the country.

Shepherd went 10-0. It was the Mountain East Conference champion. It was the top-rated team in its Super Region One, drawing a first-round bye in the six-team playoffs and hosting Winston-Salem State on Saturday at 1 p.m. at Ram Stadium.

When Shepherd stopped Glenville in its eighth game of this all-winning season, Washington was the Mountain East Conference Defensive Player of the Week because he had an interception-return touchdown and forced a fumble to go with his three tackles and a pass breakup.

Washington had started all 10 of Shepherd’s games.

His fact sheet for the season showed him with 32 tackles, two interceptions, six passes defended, four pass breakups and three blocked kicks.

Even with his injury-caused problems, Washington might be the best punt/kick blocker in school history.

His presence in Shepherd’s secondary is reassuring.

He recognizes opponents’ tendencies … anticipates what play is coming from a certain down-and-distance formation … and is a reliable tackler who can punish an unwary pass receiver who doesn’t protect himself.

Corey Washington has been one of Shepherd’s all-time best defenders … even with a performance-slowing foot injury suffered in the second game of the 2012 season.

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