By Dan Beeson (Special to the Daily World)
It’s not often that a college quarterback preparing for his senior season with some 17 football games to his credit would be looking over his shoulder at the competition as the 2012 season approaches.
But Georgia Tech quarterback Tevin Washington has played .500 football since taking over when starter Joshua Nesbitt went down with a season-ending injury against Virginia Tech in 2010. He’s 9-8 in those games, has never beaten in-state rival Georgia, and is 0-2 in bowl games. The bigger, stronger Synjyn Day has pressed the incumbent for playing time, and former North Carolina high school “All-Everything” QB Vad Lee has his eyes on the starting role as well.
If change is in the offing, Washington doesn’t appear fazed. The Atlanta Daily World caught up with the Montgomery, Ala., native near the conclusion of the Yellow Jackets’ spring practice:
ADW: How have things evolved since that November night in 2010 when you took over for Josh Nesbitt against a very good Virginia Tech team?
TW: Josh was a great leader, but I wasn’t totally unfamiliar. I was able to learn a lot from Josh up to that point, watching and emulating him in practice. So I felt like I was ready when I got the chance.
ADW: So you weren’t unnerved playing before a very loud Virginia Tech home crowd?
TW: Not really. It was an opportunity that any back-up quarterback hopes for. I mean you don’t want to see anyone get hurt, but the ACC conference championship was on the line for them. It was a great situation to come into. I just tried to keep calm. You can’t ask for a better situation.
ADW: As you look at the forthcoming season, how do you juxtapose this year – you’re “the man” on offense, as it were – and then?
TW: Well, it’s night and day. I think I’ve been through every real game situation, and seen just about every defense that I can possible have seen now. Sort of goes without saying I’m more comfortable. But the only way to keep that going is to work hard every day, to prepare every day like it’s a game day. The idea is to be a leader of this team. It’s really about getting better every day, and keeping the focus on the season.
ADW: Your competition for the starting quarterback position is strong. Does it bother you that there are voices out there who would like to see a change at quarterback, that think the Tech season is all about beating Georgia?
TW: Well it’s a lot more than that. But, you know, I welcome competition. It makes me better.
ADW: Let me switch topics here a bit in midstream, but stay on the topic of leadership and responsibility. So I hear you just finished an internship at a law firm?
TW: It’s no secret that my parents preached to me to work just as hard off the field as you do on. I still feed off their energy. I’ve got a plan to set myself up in business some day. I’m doing what’s best for me in life, in the grand scheme of things. A lot people don’t get the opportunities I’ve got now.
ADW: What’s your strongest asset when not on the football field?
TW: Listening. When you’re first starting out, in school, in sports, you end up running your mouth when you’ve had just a little success. You learn later that listening is the key, that it makes a ton of difference. The wisdom I’ve gotten from coaches and people in business has been valuable. If I had to offer guidance to an incoming freshman, I would tell them to seek out as much information as they can from people who have been there and done that.
ADW: What do you think people most admire about you?
TW: I guess humility. I’ve been able to take success and be humble with it. I don’t put myself before anybody else. I’m not better or worse than anyone else around here.
ADW: Where do you think football will take you? Any pro football aspirations?
TW: Everybody has. If an opportunity with the NFL presents itself, I’m going to pursue it. You probably heard this before, but growing up as a little kid I dreamed of playing in the NFL. I remember watching John Elway, trying to imitate him.
ADW: I’ve got to ask about the guys who caught some of your passes the last two years, Demaryius Thomas and Stephen Hill. Demaryius may be part of legend for catching that Tebow touchdown pass in the playoffs against the Steelers, and Stephen may be a first or second round pick in the NFL draft.
TW: When you’re at practice with somebody every day, you know their abilities. I had no doubt either one of those guys would be great pro players. They lived up to their ability and have taken advantage of it. They’re both good-sized guys, with a lot of speed. They took care of business.
ADW: What’s your favorite sport after football?
TW: Basketball. I can dunk.
ADW: Can you dunk…? …from the foul line?
TW: No, but I can dunk up and over people.
ADW: What do you do to relax?
TW: Oh, you know. Chill, watch a movie, kick back with some of the fellas on the team. That’s about it. Not too exciting.
ADW: Tell me something about you that no one knows?
TW: I’m in bed early, and I’m up sometimes at 3:30 or 4 in the morning. Once you’re up then, it’s a good time. It’s real quiet. Kind of nice.