Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Rebs Pick Up New Transfer

• Richard Washington (6), a Fort Myers High School graduate, caught 73 passes for 848 yards and eight touchdowns in two years of play at North Carolina State. He will transfer to Ole Miss. Photo courtesy of N.C. State sports information With a transfer to the University of Mississippi this fall, Richard Washington knows he'll be off college football's radar screen."Way off," he said.But he promises to return as an NFL-caliber player.The dynamic Washington is transferring from North Carolina State after playing two seasons. He missed his freshman year because he was ineligible. He'll sit out this fall with the Mississippi Rebels under Division I scholarship rules."I started with the Fort Myers Rebels (a Pop Warner team) and I'm back as a Rebel again," said Washington, a Fort Myers High School graduate.There still appears to be a little rebel in him.Washington chose to transfer from N.C. State after being suspended for a second time. The first suspension was in 2003."Uh, violation of team rules," Washington said of the suspensions. "Nothing I did at home."Coach (Chuck) Amato said, 'Keep this between you and me and I'll help you find another school.'"He was true to his word. I wanted to tell him I wanted to go to Ohio State, but he still was mad about losing to them. I didn't want to make him madder."Washington will join Ole Miss offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone, who held the same position at N.C. State.Mazzone was on vacation and unavailable for comment."That was a big role in going to Mississippi," Washington said. "(Mazzone) was here at N.C. State my sophomore and junior years."When I expressed my interest in coming, he said, 'Do you want to make 80 catches or 40 catches?' He knows what I can do with the ball in my hands."Washington caught 73 passes for 848 yards and eight touchdowns in two seasons at N.C. State. He missed six games because of either injury or suspension.Last season, he had a solid game against Miami, then injured his knee against Clemson and missed the final three games.He was suspended before spring ball began.Washington leaves behind teammates and coaches who will miss him despite his troubles."He's a sweetheart," said North Carolina State sports information director Annabelle Vaughan. "When he was on the field for the spring game with the players, they all came up to him and gave him a hug."Washington said that, in the tunnel before the spring game, a tearful Amato told him he was like a son. He added that he still keeps in touch with his former Wolfpack teammates."We talk two, three times a week," he said. "They said things aren't the same without me."Lately, Washington has been talking — and working out — with Phillip Buchanon, a Lehigh Senior High graduate who is now with the Houston Texans. He's also training at Fort Myers High until he leaves for Mississippi on Aug. 4."I'm also trying to get in touch with Deion Sanders," Washington said. "I was compared to him out of high school. I'm also reading his book (a book about Sanders). I'm on the seventh chapter."Washington knows it'll be tough sitting out this season, but he thinks a year out will help him get closer to graduating and help in his getting stronger for a possible chance at pro football. His goal this fall is to be the scout-team MVP, like he was at North Carolina State during his freshman season."The talk around town is that Richard Washington is done," he said. "I don't want to show them. I want to show myself that it's not over with."