Georgia head coach Kirby Smart speaks during the head coaches news conference with TCU head coach Sonny Dykes (not pictured) at the LA Airport Marriott, Sunday, Jan. 8, 2023, in Los Angeles, Ca. Georgia plays TCU for the 2023 College Football Playoff National Championship Monday, Jan. 9, 2023, at SoFi Stadium. (Jason Getz /

Kirby Smart shares how Darnell Washington is pushing to play in 2023 National Championship: ‘Done a lot of rehab’

LOS ANGELES — As far as an actual health update on Darnell Washington’s injured ankle, Kirby Smart could only offer that he’s hopeful to have Washington on Monday night against TCU.

Washington picked up the injury in the second quarter of Georgia’s win over Ohio State. Offensive coordinator Todd Monken did say on Saturday that he anticipates Washington playing.

When speaking with reporters on Saturday, Washington noted that it was out of his hands as far as playing on Monday. He has not worn a walking boot for most of this week.

Though Smart did make it clear how much Washington wants to play in this game while sharing the podium with TCU’s Sonny Dykes.

“He’s continued to work really hard, done a lot of rehab,” Smart said. “I know he wants to, his first chance to play on the West Coast. He’s from Vegas and this game means a lot to him. And I know it’s an important one to him.”

Related: Darnell Washington, injured Georgia football players update how they’re feeling for National Championship

Washington is playing relatively closer to home, as he is from Las Vegas. His junior season has been the most productive of his Georgia career, as he’s caught 27 pass for 426 yards and two touchdowns.

In his absence, Georgia turned to freshman tight end Oscar Delp. He didn’t record any receptions in the game, but tight ends coach Todd Hartley was proud of how the Cumming, Ga. native played. He did not record a reception on his 21 snaps.

“He couldn’t have handled it any better,” Hartley said of Delo. “The one thing you worry about, is the moment too big. And it wasn’t. He went out there and did his job at a very, very high level at an unbelievable level.”

Related: Oscar Delp to show what he’s learned if Darnell Washington can’t play in National Championship

Dykes is well aware of the challenges the Georgia tight ends bring to the table, even in the event Washington can’t play.

In his coaching career, he had the chance to coach NFL legend Rob Gronkowski when the two were at Arizona. Whether Washington is available or not, he knows Georgia’ multiple tight end sets will make things difficult for the Horned Frogs on Monday night.

“They are -- wide receivers are like Rob; they’re wide receivers that are 270 pounds and can block,” Dykes said. “The thing that’s unique about those two tight ends is they like to block. They’re physical-minded guys. They’re very skilled receivers, but they play a tough brand of football. And that’s what makes Georgia’s 12 different than everybody else’s.

Monday night’s game against TCU is set for a 7:30 p.m. ET kickoff. With a win, Georgia will have its second-consecutive national championship.

Kirby Smart shares why National Championship game means so much to Darnell Washington

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