By Chris Williams, CycloneFanatic.com PublisherFollow Chris on Twitter @ChrisMWilliams
Think back to July for a moment…
One can argue that free safety position was the biggest question regarding Iowa State’s defense heading into 2011.
Through two games, it’s safe to say that Jacques Washington has shut his doubters up.
Washington, a 6-foot, 208-pound sophomore currently ranks second on the team in tackles with 18. He posted seven tackles with a pass break up in Saturday’s 44-41 triple-overtime win over Iowa.
“I don’t know if he has exceeded my expectations because of his intelligence, said head coach Paul Rhoads. "I think that smart players find a way to be successful. He is a very smart player. He spends a lot of time studying the game and honing his craft. I’m not surprised."
One of Washington’s mentors, senior cornerback Leonard Johnson, agrees.
"I watched the way that he prepared himself," Johnson said. "I expected big things out of him and that’s exactly what he’s been doing. He’s been making big plays and tackling well. He’s being a vocal leader out on the field.”
Confidence has been the key. You can see it in Washington’s game. He flies to the football. Most importantly, he’s become a physical free safety that helps out against the run.
“I worked hard at it since this spring," Washington said. "Coach (Bob) Elliott has been on me about tackling so it really has paid off in the games. Going up against Shontrelle (Johnson) and James (White) and Jeff Woody every day has helped out a lot. Us DB’s like to play physical and tough. We have fun out there."
I asked Washington if the Iowa State secondary had some sort of nickname or motto.
“We’re ‘on it.’"
"That’s what we break down to," Washington explained. "Wherever ‘it’ is. We’re ‘on it.’”