East Texas 25: No. 20 Tahj Washington, WR, Marshall
MARSHALL -- If there's one thing Tahj Washington brings to the table, it's speed.
The 2019 Marshall receiver is one of the faster players in East Texas, as evidenced by his highlight reel from this past season. The Mavericks use him as a punt returner, where they can take advantage of that quickness.
But Washington doesn't think he's fast enough. He looks around and sees people with better 40 times. He watches people and critiques himself. His main goal this offseason has been to get faster.
“Seeing other people that are faster than me, it gets to me," he said. "I don’t like seeing that. You can always improve your speed.”
Washington has attended several camps this summer in effort to show off the speed he's been working on. Several teams are beginning to take notice. Tulane offered him Saturday after he attended a camp at Texas A&M Commerce. He also holds offers from Tulsa, Louisiana Lafayette and Kansas, among other schools.
He plans to make a visit to Louisiana Lafayette in the coming week, and said the Ragin' Cajuns and Tulsa are the two teams that have stuck out most to him thus far. However, he isn't looking to rush his commitment.
“I thought about making my decision before the season, but since they’re still rolling in, I don’t want to jump the gun,” he said.
Marshall coach Claude Mathis is the former running backs coach at SMU. Because he has spent time on both the high school and college level, he brings an inside perspective of what schools might be looking for. He also had high praise for Mathis.
"He’s probably one of the best route runners I’ve ever coached," he said. "You can’t guard him one-on-one. There’s no way to guard him one-on-one. He’ll just go right by you. Especially when you get in the slot, oh, my God. Watch out.”
Washington was hesitant when he first started returning punts for the Mavericks. He shied from contact. It didn't take long for him to find the joy in it though, Mathis said.
“We kept telling him to punt return, you’ve got to catch the ball or we’ll pull you," he said. "He wasn’t trying to get hit back there at first. He finally got his taste of that first touchdown and now I can’t get him away from it. Now he understands what I mean. It’s one of those things where you’re by yourself, but you can really change the game around with a punt return.”
Washington is not alone in a talented Marshall receiving corps. DeKendrick Bender (who is No. 25 on this list) and Savion Williams both have Division I offers. Washington said having so many high-profile players only makes it easier for each of them to shine.
“It makes it a lot easier for all of us, really," he said. "When you focus on one person, that makes the other two open. It’s hard to guard us.”
His goal this season is to break the receiving record of 1,292 yards, previously set by Trency Clough in 1990. It might seem like a tall task, but whatever the case, Marshall is set for an explosive season on offense with this group returning.