By Chucky Colin
THIBODAUX – Despite suffering a major knee injury at the beginning of his senior season and questions about his future in football, former Nicholls State University running back Marcus Washington is making huge contributions off the field.
Washington suffered the injury on Oct. 10, 2013 in a game against Northwestern State.
He was in the midst of having one of the best games of his collegiate career as he finished with 77 yards rushing and a career-high three touchdowns.
Although his season and collegiate career ended prematurely, Washington has stayed involved in the Nicholls State community and has used his rehab process as a form of motivation.
“Once the injury occurred it allowed me to take the time out to learn what motivates me to actually push back to get back on the field,” Washington said. “I am finally getting different types of motivation and also finding time to focus on myself.”
The missed time has allowed Washington to help others and rededicate himself to football.
Following his injury, Washington became a student-coach for the Colonels. He was responsible for helping his fellow running backs. After graduating in the summer of 2014 he was hired as the running backs coach and special teams coordinator for the Thibodaux High School Tigers.
The Tigers finished the regular season with a 10-2 record and advanced to the second round of the state playoffs before losing to Scotlandville, 27-15.
Washington says that this coaching experience and his players helped him grow. Although he has played football his entire life, Washington admits that coaching has been an adjustment and that the initial transition was not as smooth as he would have liked.
“I actually never wanted to be a coach, so when I went into coaching I didn’t know what to expect,” Washington said. “My first few days I was quiet just observing and not saying much, but once I got to know my players that’s when I discovered Coach Marcus.”
During this time Washington leaned on his close relationships. He sought advice from his old coaches as well as family and friends.
Washington says that his grandmother has been his inspiration throughout both his life and football career. He says that the strong relationship is a result of him being the youngest of five children.
In the midst of Washington’s sophomore season at Nicholls State, his grandmother died. Although this was a tough time for him, he continued to play football. He said that football meant everything to her and his family encouraged him to play.
Washington has a tattoo of his grandmother’s name with a dove located on his chest.
“It represents my heart and sunshine, which is what she was to me,” Washington said.
Washington also acknowledges his younger nephew as an inspiration. Washington’s nephew mimics many things of his uncle which include playing the same sport, wearing the same jersey number, playing the same position and having the same hairstyle.
He also credits his parents, specifically his father’s military background, for helping to instill a strong work ethic within him.
Washington says that he soon discovered that he had the potential to be his old coach’s protege. In order to emulate the success of his former coach, Washington said that he tried to reenact many things that his former coach did. This included running the same drills in practice and “doing almost everything step by step just like him.”
This not only pushed Washington be a better coach, but it also revealed what was required of him if he wanted to be successful and have a positive impact on his players.
“The good thing was getting to understand my kid’s backgrounds, and noticing I’m not just a coach but also a life coach, a mentor, a brother, or even a father to some,” Washington said.
Washington said that the relative closeness in age to his players allows him to relate to them more than the average coach. Because of this, Washington is one of the first people that the players approach when they are in need of advice. He believes that this helps their relationship and it’s something that he is thankful for.
In addition to being a football coach, Washington also serves as the coordinator of minority recruiting at his alma mater. He is responsible for giving campus tours and visits to prospective Nicholls State students. Washington believes that the passion that he had as a student and football player at Nicholls has helped his transition as a faculty member.
“Throughout my tenure at Nicholls I became a big fan of the university and began loving everything about Nicholls,” Washington said. “The experience of going through a university and then working for a university is very exciting.”
Washington said he believes giving back to the community is important because it can change a young person’s life for the better.
“To help someone else in need gives me a smile inside nobody can take away,” Washington said. “I want to become old and have several young men and women email or call me and tell me thank you, because without me they wouldn’t be as successful as they will become.”
He says that being able to help a student as both a coach and counselor is something that makes him very proud. He also likes the aspect of now being colleagues with his former professors.
Although Washington is still rehabbing from his serious knee injury, he is still pursuing a career as a professional football player. He currently is training for his pro day and tryout, which will begin in March. If he doesn’t receive an opportunity by next season, Washington will continue his coach career and pursue a Master’s degree in sports management.
Despite missing majority of his senior season, Washington is satisfied with his collegiate career.
“I will forever be in the record books, and everyone will remember who Nicholls running back No. 44 Marcus Washington was,” Washington said. “I achieved my awards as well school wise and nationally, so I am able to say I had a successful career.”
He finished his Nicholls State career with the 21 total touchdowns and 1,827 rushing yards, the eighth most in school history. He also was an all-conference running back in 2011.