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What was most encouraging about Darnell Washington‘s G-Day performance
It’s hard not to notice Darnell Washington when he’s on the field. At 6-foot-7 and 280 pounds, he’s easily one of the largest men on a team full of large men.
But while most players of his size are lining up on either the offensive or defensive line, Washington has the athletic ability to haul in passes as a tight end.
But after going back and watching the tape from Georgia’s G-Day game, there’s even more reason to be encouraged about what Washington might be able to do this fall.
Georgia moved Washington around quite often on Saturday. They split him out wide. They put him in the slot. Yes, they still had formations where he started with his hand on the line of scrimmage but there were also times where he was lined up in bunch formation as well.
On Washington’s five targets in the game, only two came with him lined up like a traditional tight end. The 51-yard catch came when he was split wide. His touchdown catch came when he ran a post route out of the slot. No two targets for Washington came on the same route combination.
As Washington continues to get a better understanding of the Todd Monken offense, it appears Georgia is willing to get more creative with how it uses the sophomore tight end.
“He’s a weapon. We’ve got to find ways to be able to utilize him, both in the passing game and in the run game,” Georgia head coach Kirby Smart said. “Because he’s a weapon in both.”
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Georgia fans saw up close what Kyle Pitts did at Florida a season ago, with the Gators using Pitts in a variety of ways to torment opposing secondaries. As college football continues to become more and more of an offensive-minded sport, elite schools like Alabama, Georgia and others will continue to look for jumbo athletes like Pitts or Washington as a way to continue to exploit secondaries.
Washington though has a long way to go before even seriously garnering Pitts comparisons. As a freshman, Washington had just seven total catches. Pitts had 12 touchdown catches in 2020.
The sophomore from Las Vegas though figures to be in a much better place in 2021 than he was in 2020. He arrived at Georgia in the middle of a pandemic and then had surgery last summer to clean up an injury stemming from high school.
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