Tucson, AZ (KOLD) - Three games into the season and a quick peek at the statistics raises some eyebrows. Arizona's sack leader can't possibly be a redshirt freshman defensive tackle could it? Actually yes it could.
"I'm just doing what I got to do," said Justin Washington, who does in fact lead the Cats with four sacks.
The 6'2" 275lb Washington out of Cypress, Texas, has certainly been doing nothing but good things. He made his presence felt out the gates in game 1 against Toledo registering in a sack to basically open up the game. Against Iowa, Washington was the one who broke through the line on the Hawkeye's point after attempt. His deflection kept the score a 27-27 tie. After the Wildcats took the lead, Washington helped seal the game sacking quarterback Ricky Stanzi twice.
"When I'm out on the field," said Washington, "I don't really feel like a freshman. That's the mentality you've got to have out there. You've got to think 'I've been here a while now. I should have everything down.'"
It would be easy to argue that point if Washington wasn't so quick to follow up his words with action.
"I'm trying not to coach him and mess him up," joked Arizona defensive line coach Mike Tuiasosopo. "He's a young man who's really come in on his own, figuring it out. He's a really sharp kid."
Tuiasosopo said he knew right away at the Toledo game that Washington had the makings of a special player.
"When we went into the Toledo game, he was in a reserve role," said Tuiasosopo. "We just said we can't keep this guy off the field. He needs to be on the field playing for us."
Washington says he's fitting into the defensive schemes just fine.
"I think I'm pretty balanced right now," said Washington. "Might not look like I've got power but I've got a little power in me. And I also got a little speed."
Combine them both and you've got a recipe for a major quarterback headache. Still, Washington is taking it all in stride.
"You've got to stay humble," said Washington. "You can't believe the hype. You've just got to work every day. I'm a freshman. So I'm going to work twice as hard."
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