June 13, 2014
By Jon Cooper
The Good Word
Tevin Washington ran for 38 touchdowns on 542 carries in his career as a Georgia Tech quarterback (2009-2012). That’s one touchdown every 14.3 attempts.
In between the scoring plays — which, by the way, totaled more than any Georgia Tech or ACC quarterback has managed over a career — there were plenty of plays that gained a handful of yards or none at all. Following each of those, Washington hopped back up went back to the huddle then, if the play warranted, tried again. Maybe that next carry would be golden. If not, then maybe the one after that.
That kind of perseverance personifies a great football player and certainly personifies Washington.
The Wetumpka, Ala., native, who made the Maxwell Award Watch List in 2011, graduated in Spring of 2012, but stuck it out for that season, leading Georgia Tech to the ACC Championship Game, in which the Jackets put a scare into cocky Florida State (losing 21-15), then ended Tech’s seven-game bowl game losing streak, over similarly over-confident USC (21-7) in the Sun Bowl.
“I remember, that team, it was kind of up and down the whole year,” Washington recalled. “Despite all of that, we still managed to find a way to the ACC Championship. It was a perfect testament for fighting through adversity. So that’s the one thing that sticks out in my mind the most about that team. We fought through adversity.
“The year before we had the [Sun Bowl] won, but they came back tied the game up with us and then we wound up losing in overtime,” he added. “So to go back to the Sun Bowl and get another chance, I guess you could say it was redemption. We should have ended the streak the year before but we capitalized on the opportunity to end it in 2012.”
That 2012 season Washington set an ACC record for rushing touchdowns by a quarterback (20) and set school single-season records for rushing TDs, rushing TDs by a quarterback, and scoring (120 points). The 28 touchdowns for which he was responsible rank second all-time in school history.
While his impact on the football record books is profound — Washington ranks in the top five in 13 statistical categories and is in the top 15 in nine others — he is proudest of the impact that hitting the books made on him.
“Graduating on time in four years,” he said. “That’s the one that means the most to me because when I got to Georgia Tech, I made a promise to my great-grandmother that I would finish on time in four years and I persevered through it all. I started out as an Engineering major but finished with a Business Management degree. But I still stayed on track to finish in four years. I did that while playing college football. It wasn’t an easy test but I managed to complete everything.”
While the winning was great — Washington led the Jackets to 16 wins in his 32 games as a starter or the primary QB, taking over following a late-second-quarter injury to starter Joshua Nesbitt on Nov. 4, 2010 at Virginia Tech — the journey at Georgia Tech meant more to Washington.
“When I think of Georgia Tech, it’s being downtown, being in the diverse environment, with other people, they are all on a mission to accomplish great things in life,” he said. “I’m thankful for the opportunity I got to through football and just the opportunity to go to the school. I’m appreciative to the fact of how great a school Georgia Tech is as far as the people you’re around and just how great an Institute it is.”
Washington made sure underclassmen had a similar appreciation for those things and a respect for the game, serving as a superb role model for the underclass of quarterbacks, especially former Jackets starter Vad Lee and projected starter Justin Thomas.
“It was real important,” he said. “The way I started playing was when Joshua Nesbitt went down in front of me, but Josh and I had a good relationship to the point where he made sure that mentally I was ready to go in the game. If anything ever happened to him he knew mentally I was going to be ready to handle any situation. When I had the opportunity I tried to give those guys as much knowledge as I could so when they got the opportunity to take over or get the chance to start they’d feel prepared for what they were stepping into.”
Washington worked out hard following his final season, striving to get a shot at the NFL. That didn’t happen, but he hardly saw that as a setback, choosing instead to see it as a sign to move on to the next chapter in his life.
It didn’t take him long to find work, first at Best Buy, but then, less than three months later with AT&T, with whom he applied the same day. He is currently an assistant manager at one of its branches, where he still is in competition, although of the much lower impact variety.
“I would say it was difficult to leave behind. You always have intentions to play as far as playing sports and being a competitor,” he said. “But AT&T, with what we do as far as business-wise, we’re competing within the company and with other companies. It drives you a little bit but it doesn’t match that adrenaline rush you get from football. I miss it but I don’t have a drive to go back and play football.”
Maybe not play it, but certainly coach it. Tevin still has football in his blood and is as eager as ever to help young players — in this case, middle-schoolers — get better.
“In my part-time I do a little training with some kids,” he said. “I’ve got two quarterbacks and two receivers I work with in my spare time, training them up, coaching them up on the basic fundamental things of playing quarterback and running routes as wide receivers.”
He’s certainly open to taking on a coaching position should the opportunity present itself. Of course, if it doesn’t, he’ll continue to do what he does best, persevere. Just like he did at Georgia Tech.
It’s how he hopes to — and should be — remembered on the Flats.
“That I was a team-first guy willing to do whatever for the team,” he said. “Fought through adversity up and down throughout his career and still managed to end his career on a positive note, with graduating from school and maintaining a positive role through adversity.”
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