The countdown to kickoff is on. Over the 100 days before Texas takes on Maryland, we’re counting down the 100 best players the Longhorns will face in 2017. This series is all about impressing your friends at pregame tailgates and watch parties, so grab a notepad and buckle up.
Who is he?
No, James Washington isn’t going to miss the first four games with a “hernia injury.” Let’s get that out of the way first. Despite the rumors spread by popular Barstool Sports podcast Pardon My Take earlier this month, Washington says he is fine and preparing for the season like normal despite some irritation stemming from an old injury.
Even if Washington is anything less than 100 percent, he’s still better than most receivers in college football. If he is 100 percent? He’s probably better than all of them. The 6-foot-1, 205-pound senior is coming off a season in which he caught 71 passes for 1,380 yards — 19.4 yards per catch. He’s likely to be the top receiver taken in next year’s NFL Draft, and he’s half of the best quarterback-receiver duo in college football.
What should the Longhorns watch for?
Washington can hurt you in a lot of different ways, but his preferred poison is the deep ball. His combination of size, speed and quickness make him a near impossible cover. And even if it seems like a defender does have good position, Washington is a magician in the air. He caught 10 passes of 40 yards or more in 2016, with three of at least 80.
The best way to take him away is by not allowing Cowboys quarterback Mason Rudolph time to locate him downfield, which is easier said than done with so many other talented players to worry about.
Texas has been mostly successful at containing Washington the past three seasons, with one big exception. In the first quarter of last year’s meeting in Stillwater, he burned Davante Davis on an inside route and then put several Longhorns on skates. The 54-yard catch and run was emblematic of Texas’ defensive problems the first half of last season.
Washington finished that game with three grabs for 91 yards. He had four catches for 42 yards in 2015 and three grabs for 19 yards and a touchdown as a freshman.
Catch up on the series
The post Top opponents for Texas in 2017, No. 3: Oklahoma State WR James Washington appeared first on HookEm.
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