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Kevin Washington: Despite a diversion from planned outcome, Washington thrives

Matt Gamber | Friday, November 21, 2008

Asked at his Tuesday press conference to talk about the positive attitudes of upperclassmen who have been surpassed on the depth chart by younger players, Irish coach Charlie Weis highlighted one name in particular.

“Kevin Washington has been here for four years, hardly has played at all – a little bit on special teams,” Weis said of the senior linebacker. “I can tell you, this year if we wanted to, we could make him the defensive show team player of the week every single week. And what we do is we use guys like him as examples … this is the way it’s supposed to be done, this is the way you practice … [I have] a lot of respect for players like that.”

Washington said the motivation behind his practice habits comes from the sense of family that he and his teammates have developed over the last four years at Notre Dame.

“My role on the team didn’t play out as most recruits like myself would have wanted it to,” Washington said. “But you wouldn’t want to go out and say ‘OK, since I’m not playing, I’m not going try my hardest or give the best looks I can.’ That would just be letting the team down … Any time you have the chance to make your team better and prepare them for what they’re going to see, you’re going to take that as seriously as possible – even if it’s not what you want but it’ll help your family out.”

Though he didn’t even see game action until his junior year, Washington said he thought of transferring only “fleetingly.”

“Going back down to Texas, to me that would be like turning my back on something that has so much more for me,” said Washington, a native of Sugar Land. “Football, you don’t know how long that’s going to take you, and Notre Dame can take you a lot further than that.”

Washington – a film, television and theatre and sociology double major – hopes his degree can take him to law school.

Though he had expressed an interest in the law before arriving at Notre Dame, Washington initially set his sights on a career in broadcast journalism. But a series of law-related classes and some LSAT preparation have pushed Washington toward pursuing a law degree at an undecided school that must meet only one criterion.

“Somewhere back down where it’s warm,” Washington said with a laugh. “As much as I love this snow and all the cold weather, I love my 50-degree winters a lot better.”

If not for a realization he made as a sophomore, however – that even though his football career wasn’t quite panning out, he could still progress academically – Washington might not have that choice to make at all.

“There’s always another aspect to where you could devote time or energy that will also have a positive [outcome],” Washington said. “You can’t just look at one negative thing and hope that it changes when you can also be doing other different things.”

But that doesn’t make actual playing time any less significant for Washington, who made the only solo tackle of his career in last year’s home finale against Duke.

“Anytime you get on the field and actually play, that’s what you came here for,” Washington said. “You’re going to be excited about it, regardless of what capacity it’s in … Your parents are still going to call you anytime they see you on the sidelines, let alone in the game. Anytime you get on the field it’s gratifying.”

And perhaps more than anything, a sheer lack of playing time taught Washington the most valuable lesson he’ll take away from his time at Notre Dame.

“If anything, it’s just being able to roll with the punches, honestly,” Washington said. “It’s not how I exactly pictured or maybe wanted it, but there’s still positives you can bring of that – the relationships I’ve built with teammates, a lot of the connections I’ve made outside of football. There’s so much more I can take from that.”