In an otherwise forgettable season which will mercifully come to end Sunday in San Francisco one Arizona Cardinal is having a year to remember.
And this could be just the beginning.
Lost at times during an ugly nine-game losing streak, a never-ending quarterback carousel, and devastating injuries at key positions is third-year inside linebacker Daryl Washington who has emerged as not just one of the best linebackers, but one of the best defensive players in the NFL.
His success doesn’t come as a surprise to the coach who recruited D-Wash out of high school.
“I told people when he and Jerry Hughes [Indianapolis Colts linebacker] who was a first-round pick played on that  Fiesta Bowl team everybody knew who Jerry Hughes was,” TCU head coach Gary Patterson told Brad Cesmat on ‘Big Guy on Sports.’ “But everybody better watch out for Daryl.”
Washington’s 123 tackles and nine sacks leads the Cardinals this season. Sunday against the Bears he recorded 100th solo tackle. He is also tied for the team lead in forced fumbles (two) and has an interception.
Patterson, who is in the Valley with the Horned Frogs preparing for their Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl game Saturday night against Michigan State at Sun Devil Stadium, said Washington certainly looked the part when he arrived in Fort Worth after prepping at Irving High School in nearby Dallas.
“He had 4.4 speed, long arms. He was at 6’3 and he was just starting to come into his own.”
One of the things which sets Washington apart from other players is his passion for the game. Whether sneaking up to the line of scrimmage and bursting into the backfield for a sack or sprinting from one sideline to another to pursue a running back downfield no one will ever question his effort on the field.
As was the case during his four-year career at TCU, he also handles his business off the field which can be an important balancing act for many professional athletes.
“I’m very proud of what he’s done,” Patterson explained to Cesmat. “Like a lot of [TCU players] he graduated with his degree before he went on to the NFL so he has a lot of things to [fall] back on. He definitely is a success story.”
Washington was selected in the second round (47th overall) in the 2010 draft after helping lead the Horned Frogs to their first ever BCS Bowl appearance earlier that year.