The Pacific Northwest is simply the latest stop for Darzil Washington, yet another former River Parishes football star who may soon find himself among the NFL ranks. The former Louisiana-Lafayette defensive end and Hahnville native was invited to the Seattle Seahawks’ recent rookie camp, giving the local talent a chance to earn his way onto the recent Super Bowl champions’ roster.
The 6’3, 243 pound prospect has been well-traveled throughout his athletic career. Washington prepped at Hahnville High School before moving to Edgard and transferring to West St. John, where he played his senior season. He was recruited by and signed with Texas A&M out of high school, but opted to transfer after redshirting as a freshman. He hit the west coast, first moving to Eastern Arizona Junior College in Arizona and then to East Los Angeles College in California. At the latter, he recorded 32 tackles and six sacks before suffering an injury that ended his sophomore season.
Finally, he moved back close to home, playing his final season at ULL — former Cajuns assistant coach and former Destrehan football coach Tim Rebowe recruited Washington out of high school and once again when Washington left A&M. He played in nine games as a senior, with ULL, logging a pair of sacks and 17 tackles.
Both of his high school head coaches — Lou Valdin at Hahnville and Robert Valdez at West St. John — agree that Washington showed a natural ability to rush the passer at a young age.
“He was very good coming off the edge,” Valdin recalled. “He had good size and good range. It’s hard to run away from him because he could catch up with you from the backside.”
Valdez echoed that thought.
“He can close on you so fast,” Valdez said. “He’s a guy with fantastic size and athleticism, the tools to be special.”
Rebowe said Washington drew his eye while at both Hahnville and West St. John.
“He is very, very athletic,” Rebowe said. “He made a bunch of plays (in high school and at the JUCO level). We moved him to linebacker after he’d played some safety and he played really well.”
Rebowe noted that Washington had had some injury troubles at both the junior college level and at ULL.
“He really dominated (in JUCO competition),” Rebowe said. “He had some nagging injuries. (Athletically), he tested well.”
It didn’t surprise Rebowe that Washington got a call from the Seahawks, in part because he had a little inside knowledge on that topic – the coach has a friend who scouts with the team, and Rebowe knew of his interest.
“He said he’d bring him up there if he went undrafted,” Rebowe said. “Darzil was one guy I knew he liked and would take a chance on.”
As a senior with West St. John, Washington helped spur the Rams onto a finish as Class 1A state runner-up and a 12-3 record. He recorded 123 tackles (30 for loss), 14 sacks, five forced fumbles and three interceptions, returning two of those pickoffs for touchdowns. He also raised his stock with collegiate recruiters when he earned the linebacker MVP award at the Ultimate 100 Southeast Camp in Atlanta in 2010.
Valdez recalled one game in particular that saw Washington register six sacks against St. James in the annual rivalry game between the Wildcats and Rams as an obvious indicator the senior had arrived as a dominant force.
He said Louisiana-Lafayette coaches struck gold when they shifted Washington into the role of edge rusher.
“He’s at his best when he’s in open space,” Valdez said. “He’s got the size to shake off blocks and make the play in the backfield.”
Valdez admitted that at first, Washington needed ‘a bit of tough love’ after transferring from 5A Hahnville to then-1A West St. John.
“He thought he was the big man on campus, without realizing at West St. John, we didn’t have any ‘big man on campus.’ That didn’t exist,” Valdez said.
“But he bought in after that. Our kids really embraced him and he became a force you couldn’t keep off the field. Darzil was one of our anchors.”
The Seahawks camp wrapped up last month, and now Washington waits for a potential call.