STARKVILLE – As a lifelong Texan, one of Jason Washington’s lifelong goals was to coach at the University of Texas.
After 13 years of working his way up the ranks in the Lone Star State at Rice, Houston and his alma mater Texas State, Washington finally got his shot with the Longhorns coaching cornerbacks and serving as recruiting coordinator.
But after two seasons in those roles with the Longhorns, Washington was ready to start conquering another one of his goals.
“Going to the University of Texas was always a dream of mine and another one was to coach in the SEC,” Washington said.
When Mike Leach was hired as Mississippi State’s new head coach in January, Washington put out some feelers and had Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley call Leach on his behalf. Shortly thereafter, the 40-year old from San Antonio was hired as the Bulldogs’ safeties coach.
“I’ve always respected what he’s done offensively,” Washington said of Leach. “Most importantly, it’s how he runs an organization and how he treats his coaches and his players. That always intrigued me so when the opportunity arose, I was fully 100 percent on board. I’m excited about it.”
It’s not the first time Washington has crossed paths with Leach. He coached against Leach’s Texas Tech offenses from 2007-09 while Washington coached corners at Rice.
Not only will this year be the first opportunity for Washington to coach outside of Texas, it is also his first experience in a 3-3-5 defensive scheme. He has engulfed himself in the playbook of new defensive coordinator Zach Arnett over the past several weeks and has been impressed.
“I love what he’s doing,” Washington said. “We’ve been diving into the playbook. There’s a lot of movement and a lot of action that goes on.”
Washington has also been watching his new players go through offseason conditioning workouts and trying to become familiar with the personnel he is inheriting.
“I think it’s a young, athletic group,” Washington said. “I’m still intrigued with watching them work. I’ll get a chance when we get into some of the workouts and in the weight room to see how hard some of those guys work. I’ll tell you this, there’s an excitement that’s going on – not just with my position group – but with all of them.”
Washington will get his first opportunity to start coaching his new crop of safeties when spring practice begins on March 19. The Bulldogs lost both Jaquarius Landrews and Brian Cole II to graduation but have some starting experience returning from Shawn Preston Jr., C.J. Morgan and Marcus Murphy.
“I’m excited to watch them compete and see how things workout,” Washington said.