With 10 receptions through Missouri's first six games, for 219 yards and 2 TDs, sophomore WR L'Damian Washington leads the Tigers with an average of 21.9 yards/reception. Washington's touchdown to receptions ratio is also tops on the team, another indication of his productivity thus far this season. But perhaps his most impressive moment this season was a catch he made when he came back for an under-thrown James Franklin pass, and leaped over an opposing defensive back, to turn what appeared to be a sure interception into a first down and a big play.
The speedy Washington isn't the biggest and strongest guy, so coming up with contested balls hasn't always been his strongest attribute since his arrival at Missouri. But that aggressive play to help out his quarterback was even further evidence that Washington has developed into one of Missouri's top playmakers. ShowMeMizzou.com caught up with Washington earlier this week, and he talked about some of what has gone into his development as a player at Missouri.
"All off-season, I worked on the deep ball," said Washington. "I definitely enhanced my game in stretching the field vertically. I mean, it's starting to pay big numbers."
Washington has really emphasized improving his perimeter blocking.
"With me being so slender, that's something that I've had to work on a lot," explained Washington. "I'm definitely working on my blocking."
I've noticed a difference in Washington's demeanor from what it was a year or so ago. He's smiling more. I asked Washington about this transformation.
"When you see me smiling more, I think it's more that I've accepted the program more," explained Washington. "I'm bought in. I'm a (Missouri) Tiger! Coming in, you have to adjust to the program. I feel like I've adjusted well. Definitely, I didn't get the results that I wanted early on. But, that's part of being an athlete; what's going to define you once adversity hits. Definitely, I think that I bounced back pretty well, and I'm still making strides."
Washington intimated that, beginning last spring, he started to put the team ahead of himself.
"Once I put the team first, and myself second or third, that's when I think that I started to get the results that I wanted as a player," explained Washington. "I think, with me putting the team first, it definitely helped me go out and be a better teammate, go to practice and have fun, talk to the guys, converse with them, relax more at practice, and just play to the best of my ability, instead of thinking so much, like I've got to do this, so that I can do this, so I can do that. Just let my ability come out."
Washington is currently playing at the Z WR position, but he has also played extensively at the X WR position during his time at Missouri. Washington wasn't sure how many snaps he's been getting, but guessed that it may be around 15 snaps/game. He's more than willing to take more snaps.
"Right now, I'm just focused on helping my team win," said Washington. "If the coaches have me in the game plan more this week, and I see more snaps, that's going to be great. If not, I'm rooting on the sideline for my teammates. Definitely, any time that the team comes out with a victory, that's what I want."