Nov.25, 2012; Miami, FL, USA; Seattle Seahawks running back Leon Washington (33) runs for a touchdown on a kickoff return during a game against the Miami Dolphins at Sun Life Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

NFL Noles: Old news, but Leon Washington is a Patriot

August 11, 2011, San Diego, CA: Seattle Seahawks running back Leon Washington (33) carries the ball in the third quarter against the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jody Gomez-USA TODAY Sports

Every now and again, we’ll take a peak and see how former Seminoles are doing in the NFL.  This off-season, Anquan Boldin was probably the most notable Seminole to change teams, but a fan favorite, Leon Washington, also changed his colors.  He’s joining the New England Patriots.  Before we discuss what we think this means for Leon, let’s take a trip down memory lane and remember the career he had at FSU:

Senior Year (2005): Played in 11 game during the 2005 season and started 10…missed two games because of an ankle injury he suffered in the Maryland game…the only player in the Bobby Bowden era to score touchdowns five different ways (run, reception, punt return, kick off return and a fumble recovery)…ranked second on the team in rushing yards (430) with a 4.4 yards per carry average…averages 10.7 yards per catch…is 10th in FSU history in career rushing with 2,041 yards…had a season-high 179 all-purpose yards when he rushed for 87 yards and had 92 yards receiving in the Wake Forest game…had a career-long 61-yard touchdown reception against Wake Forest…returned six punts for 51 yards this season and returned four kickoffs for 63 yards…led the team in rushing in the Orange Bowl vs. Penn State with 30 yards on six carries…added six catches for 24 yards in that game…played in 43 games over his career…named the Seminoles’ most dependable running back in spring practice in 2005 by the coaching staff.

Junior Year (2004): Earned Gator Bowl Most Valuable Player honors with 12 rushes for a career-high 195 yards in the Seminoles’ victory over West Virginia…his 16.3 yards per rush is a single-game Florida State record while his 195 yards is the second most by a Seminole in a bowl game…earned All-ACC second team honors… named as the Seminoles’ offensive MVP by the coaching staff at the team banquet…played in 10 of 12 games while earning 10 starting assignments…led the ACC in rushing yards per game with an average of 95.1…finished second in the ACC with 112.5 total offensive yards per game…led the team with 951 total yards of offense and rushing touchdowns (seven)…ranked second nationally in average yards per carry (6.89)…season totals included 14 receptions for 98 yards and four kickoff returns for a total of 81 total yards…scored a total of 42 points to rank second on the team behind only kicker Xavier Beitia… longest punt return total of 41 yards against Miami.

In short, Leon Washington will never be remembered as fondly as a running back like Warrick Dunn, but he should be up there.  He came to FSU knowing Lorenzo Booker was here–but that didn’t phase him.  Leon made the most of his time here and excelled.  He was dependable and when used correctly, extremely effective.

In the NFL, hes made a career as a kick returner.  He’s made such an impression, that Pete Carroll has called him one of the all-time greats:

‘’The Patriots are getting a guy who’s there every minute. He’s a great practice player, very savvy game player, very determined to prove himself, which is what you love about him,’’ Carroll said. ‘“He has tons of skills. He’s an exciting returner who takes the special teams aspect as seriously as it’s ever been taken. He’s one of the all-time greats. They get a fantastic football player, and he can play from the line of scrimmage, too – catch the football out of the backfield. He’s very elusive, a tough blocker. He’s a complete football player.”

Our friends at Musket Fire agree, saying that he’s a tremendously versatile player that will fit the Patriots mold nicely:

Starting offensively, the main guy that I think this affects is Danny Woodhead. Woodhead has been one of the most reliable guys to play for New England in the last decade. He is solid in pass protection, and always seems to come up with the biggest plays at the biggest times. However, he is really only a ‘change of pace’ back. He is not a guy that can carry the ball 20-25 times a game, his body is just not built for that. Woodhead relies mainly on quickness and speed to make plays on the field, very similar to how Washington makes plays. I really love Woodhead on the Pats, but I fear that with the addition of Washington, ‘Woody’ may be gone in 2013. However I think that  Washington will be a very solid 3rd down back, and change of pace back for the Patriots in the future. In Washington’s career, he has 3,340 combined rushing and receiving yards, to go along with 26 total touchdowns (including kick return touchdowns). Washington is one of the most dynamic players in the NFL today, and I think Brady will really appreciate his services both on kick returns, and on offense.

To call a 3rd down back and kick returner “one of the most dynamic players in the NFL” is quite a compliment.  But it’s also true.  Leon is a great talent, but he isn’t an all-purpose, all-day kind of back like the Marshawn Lynch’s and Adrian Peterson’s of the world.  For Washington’s benefit, that might be a good thing–he should have a nice long career.

I don’t know what irks me about the Patriots, though.  It is possibly their aura of invincibility and infallibility, a characteristic they seem to share with the University of Florida.  That’s why I have mixed emotions about Leon Washington heading to New England.  I know that he is going to succeed in New England because they rely on versatile running backs.  Washington is, not to overuse hyperbole, but the epitome of versatility.  But it still leaves me with a bitter taste.

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Tags: Fsu Leon Washington New England Patriots Running Back Seattle Seahawks

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