Football is like a violent game of chess.
Athletes collide, grapple with one another and try to beat down their opponents menatlly and phyically.
But amid the chaos, there is a part of the game where the thinking man is king.
Take Orlando Jones High defensive end Devin Washington for example. His size (6-4, 225) and skillset has earned him 24 NCAA Division I-A college scholarship offers.
But his ability to prepare and outthink his foes is what sets him apart, as was apparent during Sunday’s Nike Football Training Camp in Orlando, where Washington — ranked No. 40 in the Sentinel’s 2013 Florida Top 100 — was named the event’s defensive MVP.
The primary reason for Washington winning the award was his performance against Lake City Columbia offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil, who is the top-ranked player in the Sentinel's Florida Top 100.
When the two went up against each other in one-on-one drills, it was Washington who looked like the blue-chipper.
“I knew Laremy was going to be out here and I knew he was the best of the best," Washington said. "I wanted to go against the best of the best and I don’t shy away from competition.”
With his intimidating stature (6-6, 280) and surprisingly nimble feet, Tunsil, the No. 5-ranked overall player in the country by 247sports.com, was supposed have dominated the competition.
Washington, always thinking ahead, did not let that happen. The man with a 4.77 GPA and recent National Honor Society inductee, did his homework for the event. First he contacted Tunsil on Facebook to introduce himself to his opponent.
Then he pulled up Tunsil’s film, just to see what he would be going up against.
“The film doesn’t lie, so I found his weakness and beat him around the edge a couple of times with speed,” Washington said. “I got him a couple of times and knocked his hands down. Once his hands are down, a lineman can’t do anything. So I used that to my advantage.”
Washington burst right past Tunsil towards the outside on at least four occasions to get to a stationary tackling dummy, which represents a quarterback.
Two more times, Washington came inside against Tunsil to at least get his hand on the bag.
“I beat him a couple times, but he beat me on the first rep I had,” Tunsil said. “I think he’s real good.”
Plenty of the media types in attendance took notice of Washington’s victories against the elite tackle. After the session was dismissed, Washington had to work his way through an obstacle course of reporters to get to his family.
An avid Twitter user, Washington (@D_W5) is already on the radar of most media outlets and college coaches, but the added attention that comes with beating Tunsil could make him even more of a commodity.
“It’ll probably help out a lot,” said Washington, who is hoping schools like Florida and Florida State take notice. “It’ll be in the news on ESPN and stuff like that, but I don’t really look for the spotlight or anything ... I just go out and play football.”
A Florida offer is an option Washington certainly would love to have. His brother Nick Washington, who is a safety at Jacksonville Trinity Christian, has already committed to the Gators as part of the 2013 class. Both brothers would love to end up at the same school.
Washington, who has visited numerous schools this spring, is taking a hiatus from recruiting for spring football, which begins May 1 in Florida.
After that, Washington will begin narrowing his list of favorites.
“It’ll probably be a top 15 at first, then I’ll trim it down in the middle of the summer and take some more visits,” said Washington, who seems to be leaning towards South Carolina, UCF and a few others at this point. “After that, who knows. I don’t know when I’m committing yet. I don’t have any set date.”
Brendan Sonnone is the Sentinel's recruiting correspondent and can be reached at email@example.com. Follow Brendan on Twitter at @BSonnone or Facebook at Brendan Sonone or at Orlando Sentinel Recruiting.
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