Washington puts up career numbers in win over Liberty
When the fourth quarter came to an end on Saturday, the Rutgers football team found itself in an unfamiliar position: On the right side of a 44-34 score in a late season win over Liberty at the SHI Stadium.
Looking back on the performance, there were a number of players that came up big for the Scarlet Knights (2-6, 0-5). One would be redshirt freshman quarterback Johnny Langan, who threw two touchdowns and became the first Rutgers quarterback since the 1960s to rush for more than 100 yards.
Another would be sophomore running back Isaih Pacheco, who returned to form with an explosive 107 yard, two-touchdown performance.
But in the receiving corps, there’s a freshman who is starting to make a name for himself as a potential breakout star. His name is true freshman wide receiver Isaiah Washington.
He was the leading receiver for the Knights on Saturday, finishing with 89 yards on four receptions, the longest being a 51-yard touchdown early in the third quarter to give Rutgers its first lead of the game.
It was the first touchdown of Washington’s career, and the first big highlight for a player who could turn into a dangerous weapon as the Knights look to build toward a new era.
"He's a heck of a player, (and) he's gonna be a great player for us down the road,” Langan said. “(I'm) just really happy for him to get that first touchdown."
The 6-foot-3-inch wideout from Jacksonville, Florida, was an intriguing prospect heading into the season. A three-star recruit, Washington received 20 Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) offers, including from Big Ten rivals Nebraska and Purdue.
He committed to Rutgers last December, as 1 of 3 receivers alongside wide receivers junior Monterio Hunt and true freshman Stanley King. With Hunt sidelined for the season with an injury and King yet to see the field, Washington was the only addition to the receiver room this year.
Washington didn’t make an impact right away. In the season opener against UMass, he only came in for a single snap. But he earned a bigger role for himself through the month of September, making his first start in the loss against Boston College in week four.
He put up 52 yards on three receptions against the Eagles, showcasing his potential as a bright spot in a tough loss for the Knights.
For much of October, Washington (along with the rest of Rutgers' passing offense) failed to create any meaningful plays. The freshman only caught four passes over the next four weeks, with the longest a 37-yard pickup against Maryland in Langan’s first start under center.
But the air attack showed signs of growth against the Flames (5-3), and an offense that has struggled to pick up yardage so far could be turning a corner. With a young team like the Knights, week-to-week improvement can only be expected.
“We go out every day with a certain mindset where we have to get better, we can't stay normal,” Washington said.
The big question now: Can they do it against a Big Ten opponent in Champaign, Illinois, next week?
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