Would you like to receive DawgNation news alerts? Excellent! News alerts will be displayed in your browser.
Jeff Sentell/DawgNation
Cedartown ATH CJ Washington was at the Georgia-Notre Dame game earlier this year.

CJ Washington: Electric 2022 LB prospect places Georgia in his top 3

Want to attack every day with the latest UGA football recruiting info? That’s what the Intel brings. This entry takes a look at the recent top 3 dropped by Cedartown Class of 2022 linebacker prospect CJ Washington

CJ Washington has logged many a workout with Georgia all-time great RB Nick Chubb. When he does, there’s not a lot of time spent shifting the plates around and back and forth.

He’s a rising high school junior at Cedartown High School. That’s where Chubb starred and where Washington racked up 18 sacks last year as a sophomore. When you watch him work, there’s no question he has a level of athleticism and physicality that will stand out on any field.

He does wear Chubb’s No. 27 for his high school alma mater. Does anyone need to hear any more about what type of college football player he could out turn out to be?

The 4-star ATH is likely seen as a linebacker on Saturdays. Washington played tailback and defensive end last fall. He looked like a walking muscle on a hoverboard in whatever role he was excelling at on the field.

He released his top schools on Wednesday night. It was something akin to what Chubb might have done. In a time where everyone fancies it appropriate to release top 8s and top 10s when they are less than six months away from signing day, he went about his process a different way.

The 6-foot-2, 223-pound junior released a top 3. It was:

  • Georgia
  • LSU
  • Tennessee

Simple. Direct. Impressive.

That’s basically Washington in a nutshell. He’s the type of player where hyperbole is not necessary, but his first Dawgnation profile story did bring to mind the name Nolan Smith and a reference to Fred G. Sanford. 

The scouting report on CJ Washington

Washington bench presses 365 pounds, will do 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 was where a high school sophomore was about three or four months ago in the weight room)

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.

He currently rates as the nation’s No. 9 ATH and No. 88 overall prospect for the 2022 cycle for his standalone 247Sport rating.

When he competed at the Georgia Elite Classic last December at McEachern High School, he was one of the truly great players in the sophomore game. He racked up the hurries, tackles and tackles for losses.

Consider a sampling of the following quotes from his head coach at that game. Chris Hirschfield is the offensive coordinator at Walton High in Marietta. Hirschfield has experienced the great fortune and career timing to coach a pair of NFL players in Kerryon Johnson and Jordan Matthews in his lottery winner of a career so far.

He also coached Georgia sophomore WR Dominick Blaylock at Walton, too. He’s also been on the staff for teams that also lined up a few more high-level ACC and SEC players, too.

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 backward.”

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.”

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 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.”

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

“Where ever you want to play me,” he said last September. “I’ll get it done.”

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)

CJ Washington on the potential fit at Georgia

Washington was able to visit Georgia earlier this year. Dell McGee has been his primary recruiter up to this point.

He had some unique feedback on the trip and shared that with DawgNation earlier this year.

“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.”

He did say that Georgia felt like home, but I get the sense he’d like to check out what those other great programs have to offer as well. That will have to take place when college visits open back up. He still has time to wait that out as a member of the class of 2022.

LSU and Tennessee were both recent offers. Georgia and Tennessee have been hitting him up and recruiting him consistently during the pandemic shutdown of all on-campus visits.

It will be interesting to see where this recruitment goes. There are elements to his game that will also bring to mind former LSU great and current NFL vet Kwon Alexander, too. Especially for a pair of eyes who have now seen both players up close in high school.

Washington has all the potential in the world to be one of the special players in the nation for the 2022 class. While he doesn’t have elite size or length for an OLB, his athleticism, explosion and strength will stand out as uncommon among his peers.

Those traits are nice, but his mindset and work ethic are what will really set him apart. He has a mentality to just put his head down and go to work. There’s not a sense of entitlement to his personality and approach to being a great football player in every facet of his game.

“God first, school after and then family,” he told DawgNation last year. “The reason I said school right after God is that I know I am blessed with this talent. But without my grades what am I? I’m just thankful for this life I have.”


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. 

SENTELL’S INTEL

(the recent reads on DawgNation.com)

We have a new way to comment on our DawgNation stories. To do so, you must be a registered user on the DawgNation forum. If you haven’t registered, please go to the Forum homepage on DawgNation and look for “register” on the right side.