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Washington Earns Starting Job at Rutgers

August 27, 2017

Heading into week one of the college football season, Jerome Washington ’12 has earned the starting job at tight end for the Rutgers University football team. Here is the report from Ryan Dunleavy of NJ.com.

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Asked for the pecking order at tight end for Rutgers, position coach Vince Okruch put one hand way above his head for starter Jerome Washington and lowered it to around chin level for the backups.

After sitting out all last season as a transfer from Miami and being withheld from contact in spring camp because of a shoulder injury, Washington has had a strong summer to “separate himself” on the depth chart.

“I think I’m a good receiver, a good blocker and I’ll play my heart out,” Washington said. “I can bring good attitude, good effort and execution to the team.”

Rutgers tight ends Nick Arcidiacono (graduated) and Matt Flanagan (graduate transfer to Pittsburgh) combined for 16 catches, 91 yards and one touchdown last season. The totals equated to about 10 percent of Rutgers’ receptions and 5 percent of the receiving yards.

More production can be expected in 2017 for two reasons.

“Jerome’s ability as an athlete and a pass-catcher,” Okruch said, “and also the offense is more tight end-friendly. We’re willing to throw the 4-6-yard route, let them catch it, get what they can get (and) move the chains that way.”

Washington made one of the best catches of training camp earlier this week when he climbed the ladder for a touchdown pass from Giovanni Rescigno and hung on while hitting the ground hard.

“We’re expected to know a lot and do a lot of different things,” Washington said of the tight ends. “We have a level of trust put in us. We’re a huge part of the offense.”

Washington made one catch in nine games during his one season at Miami, but that’s one more than Rutgers’ other three tight ends combined. Myles Nash is a converted defensive end, Nakia Griffin-Stewart has played in one career game and Travis Vokolek is a true freshman.

“I’m eager to play,” Washington said. “But I’m just trying to take it one day at a time and do the things I have to do leading up to the game and not psych myself out for it. I just want to make sure that I’m focused and executing what I have to do.”

The last time that Washington was a major factor in games was with the independent Gattaca Football Club while taking classes at Mercer Community College in 2014. He transferred to Miami and then to Rutgers, where he has two years of eligibility remaining after redshirting.

A large contingent of family and friends is expected to be on hand to see the Elizabeth native make his Rutgers debut next Friday. He didn’t have a Rutgers scholarship offer as a high schooler coming out of small Stony Brook School in New York.

“I wanted to come closer to home,” Washington said. “I felt more comfortable here. (Rutgers) was home for me. It was somewhere I wanted to go since I was in high school.

I didn’t really have any offers from any school coming out of high school. (Gattaca) helped me in terms of getting film out at the college level and getting college credits.”

Okruch said he still has “all the confidence in the world” in Griffin-Stewart and Nash and that Rutgers will play two tight ends together at times under offensive coordinator Jerry Kill.

“I think they all put out great effort,” Washington said. “The whole room has a close-knit feel to it. We’re like brothers. We hang out off the field. I think if we all continue to be close, we’ll all continue to make each other better. That’s a good thing.”

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Rutgers

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