Devell Washington can do a lot of things on the football field. He stands 6-foot-4, he runs like a gazelle, and when gets the ball, he’s tough to bring down. That combination of size, speed, skill, and strength is why he was recruited by schools like Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State, Purdue, Iowa State, Oklahoma, and many more. That array of talent and skill is also why West Virginia Mountaineer fans and coaches are excited about his future. On the surface, he has future All-Big 12 written all over him, but there is a lot more work for him to do for that to materialize.
Being from the Midwest, which is specifically known as Big Ten country, Washington's decision to become a Mountaineer surprised some, but for him, he was thinking about the bigger picture.
Washington signed his national letter of intent at his school, Saginaw Arthur Hill High School, on December 18, 2019 to play football for WVU. What wasn't in the fine print is what he hopes to do off of the field as a student.
This fall, Washington will be a fresh face on campus, but his eyes are focused on what he can do as a student-athlete. He knows that there is work to do first, but in time, he aspires to use his platform in a positive way.
"I know how I have to adjust to college life not only as a student, but as a football player too, but when I get settled in after the season, I want to do and be more involved in the community and on campus," Washington told TSFJ. "On my first visit with head coach (Neal) Brown in February of 2019, I asked him if players could join social groups on campus, fraternities, be active in the community and etc. He was all for it and he explained that he supports his players in doing those things. That is one of the many reasons why I decided to come to West Virginia.”
”Coach Brown could have easily said, you’re not here to do that, but instead he understands we are more than athletes."
Washington has been on record saying that he would run through a brick wall for his head coach and support from Brown shows why he echoed that sentiment.
Senior wide receiver T.J. Simmons also chimed in and gave the soon-to-be freshman some advice about being a student-athlete at WVU.
"T.J. told me that it's important to make friends on campus that do not play sports and to experience things that every college student has," Washington said. "He also told me to use your time wisely, because, in a blink of an eye, college is over. With that, I want to get and give the most while I'm representing West Virginia University."
In high school, Washington was a junior partner of Unified Champions, a program that was an advocate for the Special Olympics. He would often help tutor the students, teach them how to play sports, and more importantly, just be a friend to them. He also volunteered at the YMCA and in his community. Washington hopes to forge that same passion for service in Morgantown.
Washington was an active member in the community while in high school. He plans to do the same in Morgantown.
"I just want to be able to say that I'm helping people who may need a shoulder to lean on," Washington explained. "You never know what a few nice words or simple nice gesture can do for someone. I want to be a coach after I finish playing football and to be in that position, you have to be selfless and a leader,"
Washington is set to kick off his college football career in a few days and a lot has been weighing on him since the murder of George Floyd.
"Seeing what happened to George Floyd woke me up. I guess I was too young to understand what was happening in America," he reflected. "Now that I am older, It's been eye-opening."
"Coach Brown, Coach (Gerad) Parker (offensive coordinator), and the rest of the coaching staff have been great at talking about what's going on today. They want us to use our platforms in a good way to help make the world a better place."
He hasn't officially made it to campus, but he is eyeing a way that he can make a big impact on the field and off the field as well.
"I plan on being a great person and teammate. I also plan to make a lot of plays, catching a lot of touchdowns as well as making my coaches, family, and Mountaineer nation proud throughout my time in West Virginia, but more importantly I want to show that there is more about me than what they will see on Saturdays."