Syracuse University finds itself right in the mix for one of the top prospects in the class of 2016 with Robert Washington. Among the finalists for Washington’s services are the University of Michigan Wolverines, Alabama Crimson Tide, TCU Horned Frogs, North Carolina Tar Heels, and yes, our very own Syracuse Orange. One more school will be added to round out his top six, but Orange fans are very familiar with Robert, and what an impact player he’d be for Syracuse. Let’s take a look at just how big of a get this would be for Scott Shafer and the Syracuse coaching staff.

Prospect Info 
#5 RB Robert Washington – SouthLake Christian Academy | Huntersville, North Carolina
5-foot-11, 215 lbs
4.47 40-yard dash
34″ Vertical
Offers: Robert has offers from almost everyone in the country. I’d list them – but my fingers would ultimately cramp from writing every Division 1 school in America.

Tale of the Tape

Because only one thing counts in this life! Get them to sign on the line, which is dotted! You hear me? A.B.C. Always. Be. Closing.”

If there’s one movie that implanted a movie quote in my head since the first time I saw it – the movie had to be Glengarry Glen Ross. Alec Baldwin gives a riveting speech to a group of salesmen for a real estate company, in which the large message is – always be closing. It’s a line that I’ve taken with me on every stop in my career, which brought me coaching at the collegiate level – where it identifies even larger now that I am recruiting student-athletes to come lace up their tennis shoes for me.

As the recruiting process winds down for 4-star running back Robert Washington, the same line rings true for the Syracuse coaching staff. They’ve put in a lot of hours showing Robert Washington the legacy of 44, the opportunity he could have while wearing Orange, and the realization that he could play running back at a school that had legends like Jim Brown and Ernie Davis define the exact position he plays. Syracuse started on Robert Washington as a sophomore in high school. Since then, larger schools have come calling. Alabama. Notre Dame. Michigan. Ohio State. There’s simply one thing left for Syracuse to do: CLOSE.

As we are nearing the date that Robert Washington has given as a commitment date (April 25), let’s take a look at what makes Robert Washington a “can’t miss prospect.” Let’s take a look at the reasons why, if RW commits to Syracuse, we could be potentially adding another name to the greats who wore 44.

(By the way – if you haven’t yet, join the #Restore44 movement started right here at

To the tape!

:40 mark: On this play, we see dynamic playmaking ability. In an offense that could look very similar to what offensive coordinator Tim Lester wants to run – we see the “H-Back” late on a block, which gives RW immediate pressure off the snap. His explosiveness allows him to make not one, but two jump cuts to elude the pressure, and then show enough speed to get outside the tackle box and turn it into the end zone for 6. If you watch Washington’s hip while he runs, he maintains a very low center of gravity. This allows for him to change direction very quickly and make the most of his athleticism, speed, and power. In football, breakdowns are bound to happen, but when you have an athlete like RW in your backfield, it allows those breakdowns to not be as detrimental.

1:39 mark: When looking at what makes a running back become elite – there are certain traits you need. Explosiveness is certainly one of them. Vision is also a huge and underrated skill. On this play, we see RW display both explosiveness and vision and turn a 7 or 8 yard run by most running backs, into a long touchdown run. Off the snap, a very small hole opens up on the left side. Once Washington gets the ball he darts through the LOS. The H-Back this time has a wonderful seal block that RW reads beautifully. He runs right off the H-Back’s butt and stays close enough to make the incoming safety have to keep a very direct angle to the ball. As soon as the safety stays inside – Robert busts his run to the outside where there is open space for a long touchdown run. A RB that has the vision to know when a hole is open, to see how a block is set up for him, and to see when he can cut to the outside to turn a good run into a great one… that’s a RB who will make the offense look elite.

3:19 mark: The term “dual threat running back” is thrown around a lot. You want someone you can keep in the game on all three downs. Someone who can catch the ball and do just as much damage as they do on the ground. Well, this clip shows how good RW can be in the passing game. RW is lined up close to the line of scrimmage and is matched up against a safety. RW has no problem beating him on the seam route to the center of the field. What’s impressive about this is how RW controls his body to jump in front of the CB that reads the play and attempts to make a play on the ball. Washington jumps at the perfect time between the two defenders and assuredly left the CB providing help side defense dumbfounded, because he had to think he was going to have an interception. When you add hands and body control to a running back’s bag of tricks, it just adds another element that can make your offense lethal!

Final Analysis

There’s a big reason why schools like Alabama, Notre Dame, and Ohio State have entered the Robert Washington sweepstakes. It’s because he can flat out play football. There were knocks on Robert Washington after his sophomore year that he did not have elite breakaway speed. In watching the 20 minute highlight tape of RW’s junior year, he has improved on everything that the “scouts” deemed as an area of improvement. As a former high school football coach in North Carolina, I’ve heard stories on Robert’s work-ethic and have no doubt that he will continue to work hard during the offseason and put up unbelievable numbers during his senior year at SouthLake. Going into his senior year, Robert has rushed for 5,762 yards and has reached the end zone 72 times. It’s not unquestionable that Robert could put up a 3,000 yard rushing season to close out his high school career. He is simply a can’t miss prospect for the Syracuse Orange.

Decision day is coming. Syracuse has done a lot to put themselves into position to land arguably the most important recruits they’ve targeted in the last 10 years. Robert Washington is a natural leader, who’s been on record saying one of the reasons he wants to commit early is to help recruit for his school and to bring them the best class possible. It’s pretty well known that elite talents want to play together – and Robert Washington has made a lot of “elite” friends throughout the past couple of years. Yep, I’ll say it again: Can’t. Miss. Prospect. This is the talent that could help bring Syracuse back to the Northeast power it once was. I think it’s pretty clear what head coach Scott Shafer, offensive coordinator Tim Lester, and lead recruiter Clark Lea need to do. Yes, #Restore44 should happen, but I’m speaking about the larger picture here. It’s time to close.


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Justin is a 2011 graduate from SUNY Buffalo State. Since that time, he spent several years coaching high school football in North Carolina while also working at NC State, and has also served as a head and assistant tennis coach at the Division III and Division I levels. During this tenure coaching high school football, he sent players to continue their football career at Alabama, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Purdue, North Carolina State, East Carolina, and other Division II and III schools.