L'Damian Washington invigorates Missouri football practice, despite personal hardships

Wednesday, August 15, 2012 | 8:10 p.m. CDT; updated 9:19 p.m. CDT, Thursday, August 16, 2012
Missouri Tigers wide receiver L'Damian Washington runs across the field during practice Wednesday outside the Mizzou Athletics Training Complex.

COLUMBIA — While some Missouri football players try to help the offense by cheering or yelling, L'Damian Washington takes a more direct approach.

During preseason practices, with the offense and defense competing for the right to wear black jerseys, the Tigers receiver glared at Luke Dierker, a student assistant keeping score, after Dierker announced the defense was winning 4-1.

While Washington kept a straight face, Dierker smiled and argued with him.

"I tell him I know what car he drives. So if he gives the defense some points, there's going to be trouble," Washington joked.

Washington, a junior, has been keeping on eye on the scorekeeping for the past several days, hoping to sway the point distribution in the offense's favor.

"We need it, man. I mean, I honestly think they're over there shaving points over there for the defense, I mean we've been in the white jerseys too long," Washington said. "They took them right back from us, so if I can go over there and intimidate him (Dierker) a little bit to get the offense some points, that's what I'm going to do."

The offense ended up losing the practice, so the defense will get to wear the black jerseys for the team's scrimmage Thursday.

"We don't need to sway anybody," said senior cornerback Kip Edwards.

Edwards said he and Washington have had some fun battles on the field, with trash talk from both sides. Edwards bragged about intercepting a pass thrown to Washington during 7-on-7 drills, but Washington quickly discounted it.

"Honestly, he got lucky. 'Cause, for a second, (quarterback) James (Franklin) thought he was me, 'cause we both had a red pullover," Washington said.

Washington and Edwards have been wearing red jerseys as they sit out parts of practice while trying to recover from shoulder and knee injuries, repectively.

Edwards and senior receiver T.J. Moe agreed that Washington is the fastest player on the team.

"He runs deep and takes everybody with him, and I'm wide open underneath," Moe said. "Sounds pretty good for me."

Although he couldn't use his speed while sitting out 11-on-11 drills, Washington made plenty of noise.

While Drew White, a graduate assistant on the Tigers' coaching staff, was explaining that to tie, the offense needed to win two plays and score a touchdown, Washington put his arm around him and joked, "I didn't even know you could count like that, man."

Edwards and Moe say Washington makes practice more fun and lively. Junior running back Henry Josey said he admires Washington for his attitude and work ethic.

"He's a real humble guy," Josey said. "Him and his brothers taking care of each other, that's a big thing to me. I understand him a lot. He won't give up on anything. He doesn't get tired. He just pushes through everything."

Washington keeps his positive attitude despite hardship in his life.

He grew up in Shreveport, La., where he lost his father at a young age, then lost his mother in 2006 and his best friend soon after. Washington and his brothers LaCourtney, 24, Tobias, 22, and Tomarious, 15, had to take care of each other.

Washington said that some of his teammates know his brothers, after getting to meet them when the Tigers played the Independence Bowl in Shreveport last season. He said his brothers love the team.

"I think it's great that we have teammates that understand where you come from, understand your background, and they accept you as a brother also," Washington said.

Washington said he tries to bring a good attitude to the team because he wants to make the most of every practice.

"You can't take one day being mad. You can't waste one second being mad," Washington said. "You've got to live life to the fullest. I learned that at a young age."

Supervising editor is Grant Hodder.


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