At 6-7 and 270-pounds, Georgia football tight end Darnell Washington stands out from the crowd. But it wasn’t just his size that made folks sit up and take notice of Washington in the Dawgs’ crushing win over Oregon. His athleticism and physical contribution to the team’s win over the Ducks made Big O from Las Vegas one of Georgia’s stars on the night.
Washington has long been a fan favorite but is a player who has had limited game time under head coach Kirby Smart. Some of this has been due to injury, but Georgia also has the best tight-end room in the country with wunderkind Brock Bowers and now LSU transfer Arik Gilbert in Athens.
His two receptions for 33 yards don’t fully tell the story of his contribution against Oregon. However, Washington still caught people’s eyes. Indeed, his hurdling of Oregon back Bryan Addison grabbed national media attention as the game’s most spectacular play. The catch, hurdle, and 25-yard gain got Georgia football fans on their feet.
This performance seems to be the beginning of a special season for the “Big O.”
Georgia football tight end Darnell Washington could open the floodgates against Samford on Saturday.
“Darnell Washington is in the best shape he’s been in,” Smart said during a teleconference.
The head coach said that Washington can now play “harder for longer,” which goes to the strength work he has undertaken over the summer, which must be an exciting prospect for Smart to have available to him.
Given how Georgia utilizes its tight ends, there is room for all three to be involved. But honestly, given the mismatch that Washington creates in the red zone, along with the level of athleticism seen during the Oregon game, he can be a real weapon for Todd Monken’s offense.
Statistically, Monken’s offenses improve production each year, so going into the fourth year with Monken at the helm should be exciting for Bulldog fans. Of course, at tight end, it’s not just about passes caught and yards gained, as Washington demonstrated against Oregon.
Washington’s size makes him an incredibly gifted blocker, and against the Ducks, he created space for McIntosh and McConkey to exploit to a game-winning extent. This ability is why NFL scouts are truly excited about Washington.
Washington’s appearances were limited by injury, but he did manage to record 10 catches for 154 yards and a touchdown last season. He is larger than the prototypical NFL tight end mold, but if he works hard, that could change. His size alone would allow him to play other positions, but he does have great hands, so it’s something special to see him be this monstrous target for quarterbacks.
Averaging around 15 yards per catch, he should be a vital part of the jigsaw that helps Georgia’s run at back-to-back championships if he can remain fit and consistent.
What will be exciting is how Washington gets used against Samford. This Week 2 game could be a breakout one for him — if that is the right term for a player in his third season in Athens. His physical size causes a mismatch in many ways for defenses and is a real headache. His blocking significantly assists the run game, which should elevate Georgia’s offense to another level. Georgia should leverage this to its maximum.
With Georgia now ranked No. 2 in the AP poll, they are overwhelming favorites to beat Samford. Of course, no surprises there, but with Georgia being 52-point favorites, the opportunities are there for offensive players, especially Washington and Bowers, to wreak havoc.
If Washington can continue his powerful and athletic performance from Oregon to Samford, Georgia football fans could witness something special.