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Despite his legal troubles, Derrick Washington's jersey still popular on gameday

Saturday, September 25, 2010 | 6:00 p.m. CDT; updated 9:56 p.m. CDT, Saturday, September 25, 2010
Ryan Bexten, 7, dances to the Missouri Waltz at Saturday's game against Miami (Ohio) University at Memorial Stadium. Bexten still wears the No. 24 Tigers jersey worn by running back Derrick Washington before he was charged with sexual assault and left the team.

COLUMBIA — If you are looking for traces of Derrick Washington in the Missouri football training complex, you won't find them. The troubled former running back was set to be the face of the program in 2010, but after two arrests and a pending felony charge, Washington is gone from the Tiger team, and so are most traces of him being a Tiger.

Pictures of the former No. 24 have been covered up. Team posters with his image are no longer available to the public, and you can't find a Washington jersey in the MU bookstore or the Tiger Team Store.

Missouri 51, Miami 13

Missouri scored seven touchdowns in its 51-13 rout of Miami of Ohio on Saturday at Memorial Stadium.

The Tigers used four running backs in the game who combined for 236 yards on 38 rushes. All four backs, De'Vion Moore, Henry Josey, Kendial Lawrence and Marcus Murphy scored a touchdown for the Tigers.

T.J. Moe caught seven passes for 95 yards to help the Tigers (4-0) go undefeated in nonconference play for the fifth consecutive season.

The Missouri defense forced three turnovers, each one leading to a Tigers touchdown.

Safety Kenji Jackson led the Tigers in tackles, registering 13 tackles and forcing one of Miami's five fumbles.



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But despite the attempts by the Missouri athletics department to distance itself from its former star running back, Washington's Missouri legacy still makes an appearance around Faurot Field on gameday — in the form of those now-hard-to-find jerseys.

A walk around Columbia before a game is essentially a tour of the Missouri football hall of fame, with the jerseys of Tiger greats paraded around on the torsos of beer-holding fans and football-tossing kids. Chase Daniel, Kellen Winslow, Jeremy Maclin, Chase Coffman, Sean Weatherspoon, and Blaine Gabbert are popular choices on gameday. And even with allegations of assault clouding Washington's name, his jersey is still worn proudly in tailgating lots around the stadium.

The jerseys don't have Washington's name above the number, but the fans weren't buying the jerseys for former Missouri safety and No. 24-wearer Mack Breed, who last played for the Tigers in 2008 and had three tackles in his career.

Tigers fan Keith Boone wore a white Washington jersey to Missouri's 51-13 win over Miami (Ohio) University on Saturday. Boone said he had the option of wearing a Gabbert No. 11 or a Daniel No. 10 jersey but decided to wear Washington's because it fit him best.

Boone said he was not apprehensive about wearing the jersey to the game.

"I'm going to wear this jersey because it will always be Derrick Washington's jersey," Boone said. "I feel sorry for his situation and everything going on with that poor fella. I'll give him the benefit of the doubt."

Boone was strong in his conviction, but his real reason might have been more monetary than supportive.

"I paid $100 for this jersey. I'm going to wear the damn thing," Boone said with a chuckle.

Aaron Karst wore a "beast mode" Washington jersey to the game. Karst is a student and said that he didn't think of not wearing the Washington jersey.

"It's about the jersey, not the number," Karst said.

Karst and his parents joked that the jersey was a tough-to-find Christmas gift last year and that the jersey is "pretty sweet."

The special, one-game-only "beast mode" jerseys were sold to the public only with Washington's No.24 emblazoned on the front and back.

Former Missouri offensive lineman J.P. Hall said he didn't even realize the correlation between his son Jack's No. 24 jersey and Washington until the third quarter when they came to their first game two weeks ago. Even so, they have no problems with putting the tot in a Washington jersey.

"That's the only jersey he's got," Hall said. "No, no apprehension, there's going to be another 24 on this team down the line."

Jeff Nichols and his 12-year-old son Braden shared the same opinion as Hall. Braden was a Derrick Washington fan, but his dad said the arrest doesn't change the fact that it's his son's only jersey.

"Mom bought him the shirt and he's wearing it. That's his jersey," Nichol said. "It's just a shirt."

 


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