Top Landing Spots for Darnell Washington, CFB's 6'8" 5-Star Recruit for 2020
Tight end Darnell Washington is physically and metaphorically one of the biggest recruits in the 2020 recruiting class.
Checking in at 6'7½" and 238 pounds, he's easy to locate. Washington, who plays both tight end and defensive end, is considered the No. 2 athlete for the current cycle.
Unlike many of his fellow 2020 recruits, though, Washington is in the beginning stages of the recruiting process.
"I'm honestly looking at everyone equally right now," he recently told Greg Biggins of 247Sports.
Given the absence of a finalists list, this ranking is subjective. However, factors used to shape the order include proximity, likelihood of national contention, offensive style and depth-chart outlooks.
5. UCLA Bruins
Although UCLA's 2018 season was full of disappointment (3-9 record), Caleb Wilson's production was a positive. The redshirt junior tight end's 60 receptions and 965 yards led all players at the position.
The Bruins also can tout proximity for Washington, a Las Vegas native who is less than 300 miles from the UCLA campus. Many other interested schools are on the other side of the country.
But if proximity isn't a huge draw, UCLA is largely selling upside.
After all, the program is riding a three-year streak of losing records. There's hope that changes with quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson―who will be in college for at least Washington's freshman season―but the Bruins have a big hill to climb.
4. Miami Hurricanes
You can be sure Miami is selling its newfound Vegas connection. Within the last two years, the Canes have added tight end Brevin Jordan, quarterback Tate Martell and safety Bubba Bolden.
They have Washington's attention, too.
"Miami is definitely one school I want to see," he told Blair Angulo of 247Sports. "That's 'Tight End U,' the fanbase is crazy, and they blew up my tweet about the offer."
Jordan caught 32 passes as a true freshman, and his workload may increase now that Dan Enos is the coordinator. Tight ends regularly held important roles in Enos' offenses at Arkansas. And in 2015 and 2016, when available, multiple tight ends were key pieces.
Miami's commitment from 4-star Dominic Mammarelli shouldn't necessarily scare off Washington.
3. Penn State Nittany Lions
Freiermuth and Kuntz were in the class of 2018, and the former emerged as a critical target as a freshman. Freiermuth caught a team-high eight touchdowns while finishing second with 26 receptions and 368 yards.
In the two previous seasons, current Miami Dolphins tight end Mike Gesicki was a featured player. The Nittany Lions place a clear value on the position.
The 2019 campaign will provide an important look into Penn State's staying power in the Big Ten with both Saquon Barkley and Trace McSorley (declared for 2019 NFL draft) off the roster. But if Washington is looking for a favorable system, he'll find one in Happy Valley.
2. Alabama Crimson Tide
For all the excellent recruiting head coach Nick Saban and his various coaching staffs have done, there's a clear weakness at tight end.
The departure of Irv Smith Jr., who declared for April's draft, is enormously impactful. And Hale Hentges' graduation has left the position precariously thin for 2019. The Crimson Tide will rely on Miller Forristall and Major Tennison, who have combined for eight career catches.
Washington could make an impact as a freshman. Plus, new coordinator Steve Sarkisian, who rejoined Saban's staff in January, has a history of utilizing tight ends―that's presuming he's still at Bama in 2020, which is no guarantee.
Tua Tagovailoa's likely departure after 2019 will create an unknown at quarterback, but Saban is Saban, and Alabama is Alabama. They've earned some benefit of the doubt, no?
1. Clemson Tigers
Clemson's philosophy on tight ends seems to be pretty simple: We'll use 'em if they're good enough.
From 2017-18, Milan Richard's total of 24 catches led all Tigers at the position. That followed a two-year stretch in which Jordan Leggett had 86 receptions for 1,261 yards and 15 touchdowns. Given the team's suspect depth for 2019, the trend will probably continue.
That weakness may be part of the appeal for Washington. Oh, and his freshman year would feature quarterback Trevor Lawrence―the early front-runner for No. 1 pick in the 2021 NFL draft.
Clemson is riding a four-year streak of ACC titles and College Football Playoff appearances, and little suggests that streak is ending within the next two years.