Name: Donald Washington
Hometown: Indianapolis, Ind.
High School: Franklin Central
Position: Defensive Back
Year: Junior
Last season: Started all 13 games at corner, recording 39 tackles; 70-yard INT return for touchdown against Kent State
This season: Will start opposite Malcolm Jenkins at the other corner; has played in 26 career games in his first two years

With an All-American corner on one side, Donald Washington has taken full advantage of flying under the radar in Ohio State’s secondary

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Playing on the nation’s top-ranked defense and alongside of All-American Malcolm Jenkins does not present cornerback Donald Washington much limelight of his own. But the two-year starter is quite content in his situation.

“I look at every year like my breakout year,” Washington said. “Going in, you just try to do the best you can to help your team because good contributions to the defense helps bring success for the team. I do my best for the team because as the team gets noticed, the individuals get noticed.”

In 2007, the Buckeye defense was characterized as a young cast. Yet they carried the squad to the national championship game for a second-consecutive season, leading the country in scoring defense, passing defense and total defense. Now, with many of the same playmakers returning in 2008, Washington feels confident in the Ohio State defense.

“I’m looking to do the best I can with this being my junior year,” Washington said. “I’m a year smarter and have a year more of experience under my belt so I hope it will be a good year for me. As a whole, we are a more mature defense with a lot of experience and play making abilities.”

With 22 career starts, including all 13 games in 2007, Washington is excited to show the nation what he’s learned. And in a season where he recorded his first interception for a touchdown a 70-yarder against Kent State while also logging 29 solo tackles, the native of Indianapolis, Ind., proved that he is up to any challenge.

“Whether people know about me or not doesn’t change the way I approach a game,” Washington said. “If I’m just this no name guy that tends to make a quarterback want to throw to my side more which gives me more opportunities.”

Washington looks at playing with Jenkins, a four-year starter for the Buckeyes, as a positive. Not only does he have the opportunity to show that opponents should be weary of throwing to either side, but it gives him time to learn from his senior teammate.

“Malcolm means a lot to this defense because he’s the face of this secondary and he’s the leader back there,” he added. “It’s like having a coach on the field. He keeps us going on defense because the guys feed off of his excitement, so with him coming back four his fourth year, it helps us out tremendously.”

And Jenkins looks at Washington as a leader in his own right.

“Donald has really become a leader on the field,” Jenkins, a native of Piscataway, N.J., said. “He is a great vocal guy and is not afraid to get in guys’ faces. We share the leadership role.”

by Emily Meyer, Ohio State Athletics Communications