COLUMBUS — When Ohio State defensive lineman Adolphus Washington and Oregon wide receiver Dwayne Stanford were teammates at Cincinnati Taft High School, they repeatedly expressed a desire to continue playing together in college.
That talk of a package deal struck fear into the hearts of some people who followed Ohio State recruiting because they worried the address on that package might be Eugene, Oregon, not Columbus.
But Washington says there was nothing to worry about. He knew all along he was going to Ohio State, even when Stanford took a last-minute visit to Oregon and decided it was the place for him.
“A week before we were going to commit, Oregon came to our practice every day that week. He (Oregon wide receivers coach Scott Frost) was talking to me and Dwayne every day. He asked if we wanted to take a visit. I told him, ‘No thank you, I’m fine.’ Dwayne was like, ‘Yeah, I’ll go.’ He just kept trying to get me to go. I didn’t want to cloud my mind. I already knew what I was going to do,” Washington said as he and Ohio State prepared to go against Oregon in Monday night’s national championship game.
“I said, ‘’Naw, I’m good.’ I knew where I wanted to go. I talked to (Dwayne) the whole time he was at his visit. That Sunday morning he flew back I knew that’s where he was going. He said he loved it out there. He had a ball.”
Washington and Stanford announced their verbal commitments in November of 2011. When Urban Meyer was hired, he tried to get Stanford to join Washington at OSU but the wide receiver decided to stay with Oregon.
Washington, a junior, is one of the reasons OSU’s defensive line is in the conversation as one of the best in the country. He has 9.5 tackles for losses, 3.5 sacks and a forced fumble. Stanford, a redshirt sophomore, is Oregon’s No. 3 receiver with 39 catches for 578 yards and 6 touchdowns.
They played football at Taft for former Cincinnati Bengals receiver Mike Martin and were part of a dominating basketball team that won the Division III state championship in 2011 with a 26-1 record.
The two became friends even before they got to Taft and continue to be close, even from 2,500 miles apart.
Their friendship dates back to the fourth grade in AAU basketball. “We played AAU and used to do a lot of traveling together. We were with each other 365 days a year,” Washington said.
“We talk every day. Every day,” he said. “He actually texted me during the (Alabama) game. When I looked at the message, it was from like 45 minutes (earlier). Every game he texts me during the game to let me know what I’m doing and what I’m not doing. The last message I got from him was, ‘See you in Dallas.’ ”
Washington says he was disappointed he couldn’t get Stanford into scarlet and gray.
“It was a disappointment for me, but at the same time I was happy for him. At the end of the day, he had to make his own decision and that’s what he chose to go with. No hard feelings. I still love him. Basically he is my brother,” he said.
“If it wasn’t for the Oregon coach coming to that practice, he would have been here, I’m telling you that. When we came on our visit (to Ohio State), we both loved it. We both said we wanted to come here. Once that Oregon coach came, it was pretty much over.”
But friendship only goes so far with a national championship on the line.
Asked if he would be hesitant to hit Stanford, Washington said, “No, because that’s what I want to do. It’s exactly what I want to do.”