Washington becoming ‘reliable’ player for Cyclones


Defensive back Jacques Washington prepares for the play as Texas quarterback Case McCoy waits for the snap from the center during the game Oct. 1 at Jack Trice Stadium. Washington has emerged as a reliable player in a defensive secondary that had question marks coming into the season.

Jeremiah Davis

The ISU defense may not have been much to write home about in the last few weeks, but amid all the angst from coaches and fans over the unit’s performance, one player has been playing at a high level.

Defensive back Jacques Washington has emerged as another reliable player in a defensive secondary that had question marks coming into the season. Apart from veterans Leonard Johnson and Ter’Ran Benton, there were doubts surrounding the other players.

“I think he’s been emerging since training camp,” said coach Paul Rhoads. “He’s a great leader because of his preparation and his intelligence on the field. He’s very vocal. And he’s been productive to go along with that leadership.”

The production Rhoads talked about is made obvious when looking at the defensive statistics for the ISU defense. Washington is second on the team and third in the Big 12 in total tackles with 51, trailing only co-Big 12 leader Jake Knott.

Rhoads emphasized how much he and his staff can rely on Washington on Tuesday after practice, saying he made an example out of the redshirt sophomore following the 52-17 loss in Missouri in Columbia, Mo.

“In his young career, Saturday’s game [against Missouri] was his poorest, and it was uncharacteristic of him,” Rhoads said. “But I was able to use him as an example in front of our team to describe [that] I know it won’t happen again because he’s too accountable of a guy.”

Teammates have noticed Washington rising to the occasion as well. Benton, who is also Washington’s roommate, has noticed a significant change from last year — when Washington had only 12 tackles in nine games all season — to this year.

“Jacques is a smart person,” Benton said. “He’s acutally gotten [in and] watched a lot of film. It’s funny because he still has two years after this year. He’s building up the Iowa State football program game by game.”

To ask Washington, he believes he can become that leader as well as someone who teammates and coaches can lean on.

“I was pretty lazy last year [with] my practice habits, and this year I’ve just taken the next step and practiced well,” Washington said. “I can see myself becoming a leader of the team. I’m a vocal leader, and that’s the way I see myself playing a role on this team for sure. In the next couple years I can definitely see myself becoming a leader on the team.”

Washington said making the next step in becoming an elite player, as opposed to just a very good player, starts with the film room and really studying his opponents.

Rhoads believes Washington can make it, but that the Owasso, Okla., native will have to work extremely hard to get there.

“[He has to work on] every little thing, every little detail because he’s an average athlete,” Rhoads said. “He’s not fast, he does not have explosive quickness, so every little detail, he’s got to almost be as clean as can be to be that type of [elite] player.”

Benton echoed his coach’s thoughts that Washington can reach that level, and that he can easily see his roommate as someone who leads the Cyclones in the future.

“Jacques is a silly dude. He’s more of a joker, he’s not serious all the time,” Benton said of Washington. “But when it’s time to put on the pads and buckle on the helmets, he’s on it all the time.

“In the future, it’s going to be better. Jake Knott, he’s a leader all the time, and as Jacques grows up into it, he’s going to be one of them.”