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CJ Washington is a huge name for DawgNation to know as a potential Bulldog in the 2022 class.

CJ Washington: The 2022 prospect who brings to mind Nick Chubb, Nolan Smith and Fred G. Sanford

Want to attack every day with the latest UGA football recruiting info? That’s what the Intel brings. This entry is about all things CJ Washington in the 2022 recruiting cycle. He’s certainly a name to keep tabs on. 

CJ Washington plays for Cedartown High School in Northwest Georgia. He wears No. 27 for those Bulldogs.

Yes, that No. 27 for Cedartown.

If that doesn’t bring to mind enough of a parallel, let’s make that a direct link. Washington will work out frequently with Nick Chubb, including two times today.

He collected 20-plus sacks during his sophomore year for Cedartown. Made a few All-State teams. The 6-foot-2, 218-pound Washington is electric off the edge and is the definition of a physical football player.

His lifts are what somebody who works out with Nick Chubb better be able to do.

Washington bench presses 340 pounds, does some rep maxes with 295 for power cleans and is already squatting 515-plus pounds. His power clean max is at 330 pounds. (NEWS FLASH: This is a high school sophomore.)

When recruiting analysts size him up, it is a fitting comparison to liken him to former No. 1 overall recruit Nolan Smith. He’s got that kind of explosion coming off the edge.

Chubb? Smith? Those are some big names to think about there. There’s another one that comes to mind for me.

That one would be Fred G. Sanford from the cult classic “Sanford and Son” television show from back in the day.

Why? Because that’s the visual for me with Washington.

“That’s my dream school,” he said about UGA back in December of 2019. “Every time I go there it is like ‘wow’ and ‘whoa’ and they make me feel so welcome. They are just cool people you just try to be around. It just feels comfortable.”

When DawgNation asked what it would be like if the Bulldogs ever offered him, it was like he busted out his best Redd Foxx impression.

“I don’t know about that one,” Washington said. “I don’t even know how to explain that. I just know I will be very thankful for that offer.”

CJ Washington-Georgia recruiting-UGA recruiting
CJ Washington was at Georgia for the Notre Dame and Texas A&M games last season. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)

His response there came when he just held offers from Albany State, Coastal Carolina and Nebraska.

But he managed not to mention “Elisabeth” or coming to join anyone.

But the young fella did look like he was having palpations. He put one hand to the side of his face and started smiling.

That picture even included a long exhale and taking a few deep breaths.

The first time he visited Georgia he admits he was nervous. It was before he was ever offered by UGA, but the staff kept talking to him.

“I started opening up and then I just caught that bond with them,” Washington said. “That was really coach Dell McGee. The running back coach.”

He rates as a 4-star ATH and the nation’s No. 88 overall recruit for 2020 on the 247Sports Composite ratings. Washington even landed that long-sought offer from Georgia late last year.

What was that like?

“Really breathtaking,” he said. “I was like shocked. I really never knew that I could get a Georgia offer. But I was telling myself that even if I got a Georgia offer that wasn’t going to stop me one bit from working and grinding and working to what I am trying to become.”

“So really I am thankful to have all my offers. But to me, once I get focused more on colleges I’ll start really looking to see where I’m going to really go.”

Did you know the weekly DawgNation.com “Before the Hedges” program is now available as an Apple podcast? Click to check it out and download.

CJ Washington-Georgia recruiting-UGA recruiting
Greater Atlanta Christian rising junior Addison Nichols (left) and Washington (right) already go back aways. They are two of the elite recruits in Georgia for the 2022 cycle. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)

Offered by UGA: What has that been like for CJ Washington?

His last UGA visit was on the first of this month. When he made that trip, he did so with an offer. That was a first. That trip also allowed the chance to put on the red and black jersey for the first time.

“They basically have got what I need,” he said of UGA. “That’s what I am basically saying.”

He’s no longer two cycles away while the 2020 recruiting period is going on. He felt more “love”on that last visit.

“They are cool and funny up there at Georgia,” Washington said. “Those coaches are cool.”

He had to cook hamburgers as part of a kitchen challenge. That did not go well. But he was able to learn how the Bulldogs view his skill set at this time.

CJ Washington-Georgia recruiting-UGA recruiting
CJ Washington said he always feels that Georgia is “home” to him right now. (CJ Washington/Courtesy photo)

“They were telling me how they look at me as not even a one-spot player,” he said. “They see me playing all around for them.”

“They see I can do middle, outside linebacker and possibly play running back. They were also talking about the school and once they got into the school stuff I really started listening.”

“The way they were describing it is everyone learns differently. Basically. They were telling us that all players learn differently. Once you get there and open up to Georgia, you go to the academic counselors and you tell them how you learn things and study. Then they help identify the way you learn and show you the way you learn and the best way they are going to be able to help you from an academic support standpoint.”

Georgia showed Washington how the program can make him a better student on that visit, too.

It was encouraging. Washington has been taking his early college visits looking for spots that will support him academically during the football season.

That’s when his time is divided. He has been an “As and Bs” student so far as a sophomore. Washington intends to keep it that way.

“When I go to other places, the schools weren’t talking about that,” he said. “If I went to Georgia with the way I told them the way that I learn things, I think that is a better environment on me. It will help me get my work done in the most efficient and best manner possible. It will show me how I can do more from an academic standpoint as a college student at Georgia.”

The Georgia staff also brought up the word “entitlement” with him. The coaches say they are seeing more and more guys enter the college level thinking they are owed something.

That’s never been what Washington is all about. He’s a worker. He’s got a coach that he treasures who stays on him.

“He always tells me ‘Head down. Don’t talk. Just grind.'”

Washington is working out multiple times per day right now during the COVID-19 health concerns. That’s just his mindset.

“I just play football because I love it,” he said. “I play it for my brothers. I’m not focused on what I need to get or what I have to get or focused on any one position. I just want to play and help out my team. Anywhere the team needs me, that’s where I will play.”

He does feel that way about Georgia right now.

“To make it simple, Georgia is basically my second home,” he said. “My first home is Cedartown High School. Georgia feels like home. That’s where I have been mostly. So of course, it is going to feel like home. So I am going to feel like I fit in more right now.”

CJ Washington-Georgia recruiting-UGA recruiting
CJ Washington tried on Nick Chubb’s No. 27 during his February visit to UGA. (CJ Washington/Courtesy photo)

Coach speak: An honest assessment about Washington 

Chris Hirschfield is the offensive coordinator at Walton High School. He’s been able to coach elite talents like Dominick Blaylock, Kerryon Johnson and Jordan Matthews along his varsity career up to this point.

Those are just the names most of DawgNation will know. Hirschfield has coached at programs in Alabama and Georgia that have continually sent players to the SEC.

He served as the coach on Washington’s team at the “Georgia Elite Classic” All-Star event last December. He had the chance to work with Washington for a few days.

A fella who has seen two current NFL starters every day as a high school coach surely won’t impress easily.

CJ Washington-Georgia recruiting-UGA recruiting
CJ Washington could be an ILB or an OLB in college at the next level. He’s highly versatile and explosive. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)

Washington played at H-Back, defensive end and outside linebacker for the winning team in that showcase.

“When we had him out wide at d-end, we stood him up and put him an extra yard out wide basically as an outside ‘backer,” Hirschfield said. “Basically nobody could block him coming off a speed rush.”

His roster didn’t have any H-Back or fullback types on the other side of the ball.

“He obviously fit the part there, too,” he said. “We taught him four plays literally. Power. Counter. Literally four or five plays in practice. I’ve never seen anybody collision and hit the way that kid does. His explosiveness might be the best I have ever seen.”

“Absolutely explosive. Full speed and does not shy away from contact and he’s so powerful. He doesn’t just hit. He drives people backwards.”

They gave him maybe four or five reps in practice at those positions. Those reps had to come after the defensive period. Washington had it from that point on.

Hirschfield even handed him the ball a few times in the game, too.

“He’s special,” he said. “I didn’t even teach him the name of all the plays I would just tell him ‘Right Strong’ or ‘Left Strong’ as far as his alignment and I gave him three words. Counter. Down call which is our power. He’d kick out the play-side defensive end. Or Insert. He then knew to insert there and get that middle ‘backer. He was really really good at it.”

That was his part-time job. His main duty was flying off the edge.

“He couldn’t be blocked,” Hirschfield said. “He’s special. Absolutely special.”

That goes for on and off the field.

“Great kid, too,” he said. “I talked to him outside of practice and the game. Polite. Spoke to him at the bowling alley event. Extremely humble. Very well-spoken young man. Very gracious. Just a very very nice kid.”

Matthews was a receiver. So was Blaylock. Johnson was one of the best running backs in college football at Auburn back in 2017. Those are all different types of players.

“Those were all offensive playmakers and we are talking about a defensive playmaker here,” Hirschfield said. “But he’s just so versatile. So much athleticism. He’s got wide shoulders. His frame. He’s long. He is going to carry weight and he has no fat on him.”

“He’s definitely going to be a defensive player in college.”

Washington showed physicality as an H-Back at that event. It was enough to convince Hirschfield that he could be an inside linebacker in college, too.

“The way he closes space down as a blocker I see that and think about a middle linebacker and filling a gap so quickly the other way around,” he said. “I do think he can be that type of impact player there, too.”

It makes sense. Especially as an ILB in a 3-4 front. Washington could be pretty impressive at either LB spot at that next level.

CJ Washington-Georgia recruiting-UGA recruiting
When a young man had 20-plus sacks in a season and can squat 500 pounds as a sophomore and power clean 295 pounds AND his helmet looks like this, then they have a chance to be very special. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)

That Nick Chubb connection with CJ Washington

Washington has worked out with Chubb dozens of times now.

“It is really no big deal,” Washington said. “He’s just a regular person.”

That’s kind of how he comes across. Washington was immune to the fact he’s lifting with an NFL Pro Bowler. But it hasn’t even sunk in that he works out every day with a world-class athlete like Chubb.

Chubb is one of the few humans on this earth that can run a 4.5 laser 40, power clean 400 pounds and squat well over 550 pounds, too.

That’s just his off-season workout buddy.

He tried on Chubb’s No. 27 jersey at UGA. He knows if he wears that number, he will have to work.

“I want that push,” Washington said. “I want to push myself to try to find a way to be even better than him. That’s a lot. That’s a whole lot, but that’s the way I work.”

Chubb does not tell Washington he is strong for his age. Or any age. Or as strong as he was when he was a sophomore in high school. The Georgia all-time great won’t give him that.

“He will pick on me,” Washington said.

It should surprise no one that Chubb doesn’t bring up Georgia with Washington. They just lift and work.

Those two now work out every day of the week except for the weekends after the season. They are also joined by a few other past and present Cedartown Bulldogs, including 2020 Clemson RB signee Kobe Pryor.

Check out the 2019 highlight reel here. There are a lot of memorable moments.

CJ Washington: The next steps in his recruiting journey

Washington sounds like Chubb in a lot of ways. There are clear connections here to Georgia, but feels like he now needs to see other schools.

Florida is an option.

“I’ll be honest with you,” he said. “I’ve been having my eye on Georgia. Honestly. The way things look I am still going to be open-minded. Just to see how other colleges are. I’ve been thinking about making my decision in the summer of my junior year. The junior summer. If I decide to so somewhere sooner, then I guess it is going to be then but I am really waiting until my junior summer.”

To be clear, that will most likely be the summer prior to his senior year.

It will allow more schools to see him play multiple positions. It will also allow him to see more schools.

“Georgia is my dream school and they are showing me love,” he said. “That’s great and all. But I think my recruiting is getting to the point where I open up to new places. Georgia is not getting old to me. But Florida came in. Now I want to at least see how Florida is and those other colleges. I want to see how other colleges are now.”

He’s been researching Auburn, Clemson, LSU, Ole Miss, Ohio State, Virginia Tech and West Virginia online on his own. Washington will look at their academics and the campus layout. He will kick the tires on potential college majors.

Dan Lanning and Glenn Schumann now talk to him about both linebacker spots at Georgia. They now recruit him, along with McGee.

What is Washington looking for in a future school?

  • “Brotherhood.”
  • “Relentless work. A school that is always working hard every day no matter what.”
  • “Everybody holding each other accountable for pushing each other to do more than they ever thought they could do.

He’s used this COVID-19 break to become a master at mowing his Grandmother’s lawn.

“Getting really good at my lawn mowing game,” he said. “Getting really good on that grass.”

It has also led him to help his mother out in the kitchen. He’s been busy at that the last few days.

“I can go crazy on meatloaf,” he said.

Washington is certainly a name to pay attention to in the 2022 class.

CJ Washington-Georgia recruiting-UGA recruiting
CJ Washington said that he was watched Georgia’s Nolan Smith work on his ball get-off and will watch him work in drills. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)
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