Alex Washington was one of the top offensive performers during spring drills, exhibiting superb receiving skills that were lacking in 2008 due to a knee injury. The redshirt senior from Stone Mountain, Ga., entered fall camp as a likely starter, providing the offense an explosive playmaker with toughness from the wideout position. He also enters the season as the team's most experienced punt returner.
Washington took time earlier this week to answer the following questions that were submitted by you, the fans, in VUcommodores' latest "Ask A Dore" segment.
Alex, I feel the receivers have a chance for a special year. How do you feel you guys can improve in the passing game from last year? Thanks.
"With the no huddle offense we're running, there will be a lot of opportunities to make big plays. We've got a chance to do a lot of great things. We'll be able to get a lot of guys in the rotation and make a lot of big plays."
The offensive schemes for wide receivers are increasing complex. How do you manage keeping up with all the material you have to memorize for football and also keep up with the academic rigors in the classroom at a top university like Vanderbilt?
"We have a lot of meetings and the coaches stay on us to learn the plays. Balancing everything with academics is kind of tough, but it's something you have to do. That's why you come to Vanderbilt. Your success depends on your focus and how bad you really want it.
"Coming here as a freshman, I didn't really have a routine down and had to work on balancing my time. As the years progressed, I started watching the older guys and you see how they do it and try to follow them."
Being a senior leader, do you feel like you have a lot to prove in your final year?
"Yes, especially coming off my ACL injury. I want to show people that I can play. I also want to be a leader for the younger receivers that we have on the team. I just want to make plays, come off this ACL strong, and show people that I can do some good things for the Commodores."
Alex, all of the athletes that I have met at Vanderbilt are exceptionally polite and respectful. Is this something that is emphasized at Vanderbilt?
"I think that when you get recruited to come to Vanderbilt, you're a character guy anyway. Coach Johnson and his staff do a great job of visiting homes to make sure we're getting classy individuals. There's a lot of character on this team, so it's just naturally how the athletes are."
Which games are you looking forward to the most and why?
"I always like facing Georgia just because I'm from there. Also, I look forward to playing LSU because they have two starting linebackers that went to my high school, so that will be fun."
Has anyone ever told you that you look like Lil Wayne?
"Yeah, I get that a lot. He's one of my favorite rappers."
How does it feel to have the most swag on the team, but to still only have the second best dreadlocks in the SEC?
"I think I may know who wrote this, actually. Yeah, I mean, it feels good to have a lot of swag I guess. I just do what I do... do me. If that's what swag is, then I guess I'm the definition of it. And I absolutely disagree on the dreadlocks part. I'm frying Dexter McCluster (Ole Miss)."
How do you think the lack of a "bye" week will affect the team?
"In a sense it does just because it's 12 straight games, but I've noticed in this camp that the coaches are trying to make sure we have fresh legs. It could be a factor, but I think we'll be alright just because Coach Sisk and his staff have conditioned us over the summer."
Are you back to 100%? Are you going to get a chance to return punts again?
"Yes, I feel great. My knee doesn't even bother me. I'm just working to improve every day. Also, from the way it's looking right now, I'm on the first team punt return scheme, so we'll see what happens with that when the season starts."
Who do you look up to the most and why? Oh yeah, GO DORES!!
"I'd have to say my mom. She's a strong individual. Both of my parents have done a lot for me and have sacrificed a lot for me to get to this point in my life. It took me a few years into to college to realize exactly how much they've done for me. I appreciate them, look up to them, and inspire to be like them."
What are your thoughts on the facilities upgrades and the proposed football building at McGugin?
"The upgrades to the meeting rooms were big. Obviously, the stadium is almost finished and that's pretty tight. Coach Sisk just ordered a bunch of flat screens for the weight room, so that will be nice. From what I hear, they have a bunch of upgrades still to come. Overall, it's been a big change since I've been here."
Can you believe your punt return for a TD was called back against Alabama a few years ago?
"I guess it happens. You need to talk to Myron Lewis since he's the one who got the penalty (joking). Myron apologized about it after the play, but when we watched it on film, it didn't really look like much. I wish they didn't call it back, but that's fine."
Finally, what do you envision for your final season?
"I just want to step out and just make plays for the offense and be a leader for the young guys. I want to contribute a lot because I feel like since I've been here, I've done a few things on the field, but haven't really stepped into a position of somebody you can count on to make a play. I really want to do that before I leave. Whether that happens on or off the field, I just want to be a model for the people coming through here."