Pittsburg State safety Deron Washington, like many football-playing young men, is inspired by his father, Donald.
Years ago, Donald played football at Louisiana Tech. His dream was to play in the NFL, and he was convinced it would happen, until a senior-year injury robbed him of that opportunity.
Now Deron, 23, hopes to do his part to make sure the Washington family gets
“Watching my father play, he inspired me,” said Deron, a four-year starter for the Gorillas with played his high school ball at Raymore-Peculiar. “He was my coach ... he pushed us and that’s what drives me.”
By “us,” Deron is also referring to his brother, Derrick, a star running back at Missouri who left due to legal trouble, resurfaced at Tuskegee in 2012 and was a finalist for the Harlon Hill Trophy — the Division II equivalent of the Heisman — but went undrafted in 2013.
Now, Deron says, Derrick is helping him train at home as he prepares for his NFL shot.
“He’s the biggest one (supporting me),” Deron said, when asked who wins their one-on-one matchups these days. “I used to cover him when he was playing ... but now that I have a better understanding of what routes look like, it’s leaning more toward me winning the battles.”
Deron, who has also trained at Corey Taylor Sports Performance, certainly caught some team’s eyes with his Pro Day numbers, especially when it comes to his 40-yard dash (4.43) and bench-press (23 reps of 225), the latter of which would have ranked first among all defensive backs at the NFL Combine, had he been invited.
“He got us ready to where when you go there, it should be second-nature and that’s what it was,” Washington said of his trainers. “I felt real good with my numbers.”
And the 6-foot-1, 215-pound Washington, who has been a Chiefs fan for as long as he can remember, got a chance to show his stuff for his hometown team at the Chiefs’ local Pro Day on April 7.
“I thought I did well there — I started off a little shaky but I thought I picked it up at the end once I got over my nerves,” Washington said. “I felt I was tight, and I was trying to be a perfectionist and do everything above and beyond what was expected of me. Once I got my mind right, I calmed down and was moving how I supposed to.”
Washington hopes his college tape helps his cause. One of his favorite players growing up was Dante Hall, and he tried to bring that big-play mentality every time he stepped on the field for the Gorillas.
“I just loved watching him, just his explosiveness,” Washington said. “I knew if he got the ball, there was a chance he could make a play. I’m on the defensive side, so I want people to look at me like that, like when will Deron make a play?”
Deron had his moments in 2016, during a season in which he finished with 60 tackles (two for loss), two interceptions, three pass deflections, two forced fumbles and one pass breakup.
“I had a 50-yard interception return (this season), but my favorite play this year came when they ran a screen and there were two guys coming at me and then one tried to cut me,” Washington said. “I got off the cut and made the tackle and forced a fumble and we recovered. They were going to score on that play if I wasn’t there.”
Education has always been important to Washington, a five-year member of the MIAA Academic Honor Roll who graduated from Pitt State in December 2015 with a 3.50 GPA as a electronics engineering technology major. He thanks his mother, Sarah, for that, but he still hopes to be drafted late or land a free-agent tryout after the draft — hopefully with the Chiefs — so he can say he achieved the same dream his father had so many years ago.
“That would obviously be the best feeling to play for your home team, the team you grew up cheering for,” Washington said. “Friends, family could easily come to a home game.”
DERON WASHINGTON’S DRAFT PROFILE
Measurables: 6-1, 215, 23 years old
2016 stats: 60 tackles (two for loss), two interceptions, three pass deflections, two forced fumbles, one pass breakup
Pro Day numbers: 4.43 40-yard dash, 23 bench press reps, 32 1/2-inch vertical jump, 120-inch broad jump, 4.56 20-yard shuttle, 7.25 three-cone drill
2017 NFL Draft
Round 1: 7 p.m. Thursday, April 27
Rounds 2-3: 6 p.m. Friday, April 28
Rounds 4-7: 11 a.m. Saturday, April 29
2017 NFL DRAFT PREVIEW: SAFETIES
What the analysts say: “I think the safety class is outstanding, depending upon what kind of safety you prefer, whether it's a box safety or a true centerfield free safety type, those guys are there,” NFL Network’s Bucky Brooks said. “There are also some guys who are kind of following the trend of the hybrid player, meaning they can be the nickel safety linebacker or the nickel corner while also occupying a deep safety role.”
Chiefs’ need at this position: Low. The Chiefs have one of the best safety duos in football with Eric Berry, 27, and Ron Parker, 29, and they extended third safety and dime linebacker Daniel Sorensen, a former undrafted free agent who played 48 percent of the defensive snaps in 2017, for four more years this offseason. Throw talented 2016 fourth-rounder Eric Murray, a converted corner who plays with an edge and served as a valuable special teamer, to the mix, and it’s hard to find much of a need here unless the Chiefs really like the player.
OL: Pro day performance caps fun two days for Missouri Western’s Travis Anderson | rankings, to come
EDGE: K-State’s Jordan Willis has worked his way into first-round discussion | rankings, to come
ILB: K-State linebacker Elijah Lee is betting on himself in NFL Draft | rankings, to come
CB: Confident, deep crop of rookie corners should be enticing for Chiefs | rankings, to come
S: Pitt State’s Deron Washington carries on NFL dream for family | rankings, to come
Terez A. Paylor, firstname.lastname@example.org