Washington finds a new niche

Washington finds a new niche

For Marcus Washington, change is the theme for this spring. The redshirt sophomore is not only welcoming a new coaching staff to the maroon and gold program, but also a new role with the Sun Devils.

In 2011, Washington saw action in eight games for a total of 13-carrries and 41 yards. Although he has been a part of the running back unit since his arrival at Arizona State, this year with a new offense and new set of personnel, coaches have decided they can utilize Washignton's skills in the half-back role.

"It's different," Washington said. "I like it a lot with the whole position change and everything, I'm liking it. People said that they knew I would be in a position like this and getting more reps and with this I'm getting them so I really like it a lot."

With only five spring practices under his belt, Washington has already began to adjust to his new environment. The position comes with new responsibilities and techniques, all of which the half-back is becoming quickly acclimated. Washington talked about the adjustments he had to make.

"I have to get into more of a stance, a 3-point-stance," Washington stated. "I'm normally in a 2-point most of the time so that's one thing I had to learn because I was a little rusty on that one but I would say, blocking (being the biggest adjustment). The different kinds of blocking steps and how to do it so that was a little different."

"It's a challenge for him and he is obviously learning," said Head Coach Todd Graham. "With Chris Coyle gone (due to injury) that is a position that is tailor made for him. That three-back is really just another tailback for us. Washington has done a good job until this point but he has a lot to learn."

With a new coaching staff, the opportunity for reserve players to shine is also escalated. Washington is naturally elated that he can showcase his talents to a fresh pair of eyes and having a new slate.

"Yes! " Washington admitted. "When the new coaches come in, it's a whole new slate because no one knows who anyone is. The coaches started throwing players in because they want to see them play. They've seen it on film but when they're in front of them and on the field it's different."

Being one of the most physical backs on the roster, the redshirt sophomore has proven his athleticism will enable him to excel in several different roles for Arizona State; including at half-back.

"Being able to run hard and I'm known for being able to hit people all the time so I think that is what caught the coaches' eyes the most," said Washington. "Being able to be physical and all of that on the field because that's what we need, always be physical. That's what football is all about."

The transition may be easier than it seems for Washington, considering the Sun Devils will be required to learn a new offensive scheme, which also involves new responsibilities than those he was accustomed to under the previous coaching staff.

"One of the plays I have to be on the line with the offensive lineman so that's different," Washington commented. "Usually I'm in the back looking at the linemen watching them make holes and now I'm making the holes. I'm not as big as most of the tight ends but I think I'll be able to keep up with them with my strength and catching abilities. Buts it's good, I like it!"

Coaches, including Tight Ends Coach Chip Long, are working with the half-back throughout the spring to ensure his success this fall. Not only does Washington have to build his skill in his new role, but will also focus his preparations on learning not only on, but off the field.

"Working on blocking a little bit more and how to attack the person," Washington said describing his areas of improvement. "Knowing more plays because with this and the new plays, I'm having a little trouble catching up and learning all of that so I'm just trying to get in there, watch film and learn the playbook a little bit better."

Compared to previous years, the offensive scheme this season will incorporate an aspect that 2010 may have been missing. Implementing the tight-ends more consistently will be something that Sun Devil fans aren't accustomed to, but it is one change that Washington is confident will lead the Sun Devils to success.

"It is different," Washington confessed. "Last year, we didn't really use the tight ends as much and this year now the tight ends are in there, almost every play! So I think that's the big difference and now that I switched to tight end, I can see it and the reps we're getting!"

Coaching changes are often difficult for programs to absorb. Nonetheless, Washington is optimistic about the progress that players and coaches have made in understanding one another and transitioning into what Sun Devil fans hope to be a successful and productive season.

"We're starting to understand the coaches better," Washington commented. "We read all of their blogs on our own time and they told us things about themselves so it's good. As a running back, Coach Porter, I liked how he taught us stuff and now with Coach Long, it's like they speak wisdom, it's amazing."

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