Washington Preps for First Start

Charles Washington

Fresno State redshirt sophomore safety Charles Washington will start his first game Thursday versus Rutgers. Check inside for more from Washington...

When Derek Carr was asked Monday which young player he was most excited about this season, he pointed out sophomore Charles Washington who has lined across him through fall camp at safety.

"I'm excited to watch Charles Washington." Carr said. "He's pound for pound the strongest guy on our team. Easily, probably the fastest guy on our football team. I don't know if he cares too much about his body too much when he goes up to hit people. I think he has a little bit of Lorne Bell in him… He was the hardest hitter I've ever seen and Charles is right up there with him."

Replacing Phillip Thomas was one of the top concerns going into the spring earlier this year, but it was hardly a question by the start of fall camp. Charles Washington jumped to the top of the depth chart and cemented a spot on the first team much faster than anticipated. His grasp of the defense caught up to his impressive athletic ability.

"I locked in mentally," Washington explained. "Time after time that was what I struggled with. I locked in mentally and once I clicked there, everything started to fall into place smoother. It was go time from there."

"Coming out of spring ball, I felt like I pretty much corrected everything I needed to," Washington added. "There's always room for improvement, but I felt that I fine tuned everything from spring ball. That was my time to really correct things and so now it's just polishing everything off."

Washington stands at 5-foot-11, 200 pounds. What he lacks in size in experience, he makes up for in speed and hard hitting.

"I'm fast and I'm physical," Washington said. "I'm not the biggest safety out there, but I feel like I would go toe-to-toe with the biggest guy on the field. The speed is a plus, if I blow coverage or something, I have make-up speed to put me back into place."

Washington will do just that, going toe-to-toe with the biggest guy on the field on Thursday. Rutgers' biggest receiving threat, Brandon Coleman, stands at 6-foot-6.

"We're ready for that," Washington said. "We have a 6-foot-6, 280 tight end out here, Marcel [Jensen]. So we get good work out here with him. We'll translate what we do with him to the Rutgers receiver… They're a pretty good team. They look like they play physical, but that's what we do. It'll be a good game."

In 2012 safeties Thomas and Smith competed to see which defensive back could pick off more passes. Thomas led the way and the duo combined for 14 interceptions.

"How they played, how they communicated, they went hand in hand with each other," Washington said. "Hopefully we can feed off of last year and be just like that, if not better."

On Thursday, four defensive backs will look to jump ahead in the 2013 interceptions race.

"We've already talked about it," Washington said. "Whoever at the end of the season, who has the most picks. Me, L.J. [Jones], Curtis [Riley], and Derron [Smith] have talked about it… I think I'll get it, but going off last year, Derron looks like he's the person to get. We're all in competition for that."

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