- Austin Ward, ESPN Staff Writer
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COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Just a few days before the latest public offering, Urban Meyer did a bit of insider trading and handed out a hot tip.
The Ohio State coach was already buying what Adolphus Washington was selling as camp came to a close, heaping praise on the sophomore defensive end before the rest of the country could get a glimpse at the progress he had made since last season with a grand unveiling in the spring game.
Meyer’s advice proved prophetic on a sunny afternoon in Cincinnati that was dominated by Washington’s power and strength as a pass rusher. The rising sophomore turned in a performance that would make any early investors in him quite pleased as the Buckeyes head into the summer conditioning program.
“I don’t know about the first half of spring,” Meyer said. “I wasn’t buying that stock. But I’m buying it now.”
After making a habit of ruining the pocket for quarterback Braxton Miller and piling up four sacks in the exhibition game, there might not be anybody whose value increased more than Washington’s by the time spring officially came to a close.
The Buckeyes were already expecting him to be an integral part of their portfolio on the defensive line, and he didn’t exactly come from nowhere to win a starting job since he had been penciled in as a starter since the day John Simon’s career with the program ended.
Washington provided a glimpse at his potential while filling the shoes of the reigning Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year in the season-ending win over Michigan, delivering a critical sack and forced fumble after being pressed into action when Simon was a late scratch due to injury. There’s a significant difference, though, between plugging a hole for a game and becoming a consistent force for an entire season, and Washington hasn’t been shy about admitting he wasn’t ready to do that as a freshman.
But with the Buckeyes needing to replace Simon and the other three starters up front, they no longer had much time to wait for Washington to figure out how to do it. And even if he got off to a sluggish start in spring, he certainly finished it on the right track.
“I just go out and compete, because that was one of my biggest problems last year,” Washington said. “I didn’t go out there and play hard every play, and everybody knows John Simon, that’s what he does.
“It’s like, we just have to go out there and compete every play, because if we let down just one play, we know that the eyes are already on us. ... I have to compete every play, and it’s starting to become a habit.”
That change in attitude was clearly producing results in a scrimmage setting, and Washington was also making it a habit to easily find his way into the offensive backfield and slap some hands on the quarterback.
His sack total might be somewhat inflated since Miller was in a black jersey and shielded from contact, lowering the degree of difficulty to bring down the elusive quarterback. But even if that number might not tell the entire story, there was no underselling how miserable his combination of power and speed at 6-foot-3, 292 pounds can make life for anybody trying to block him -- and Meyer didn’t need fresh statistics to convince him he had a hot stock on his hands anyway.
“Very talented player,” Meyer said. “Adolphus Washington has really raised his level of play. He’s a legitimate player -- he’s a starter at Ohio State.
“You saw him [in the spring game] just have his way with our offensive line at times, and he could be a very good player.”
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