Tevin Washington was teammates with Justin Thomas in 2012 when the former was a senior quarterback at Georgia Tech and Thomas was an incoming freshman. Washington helped teach him the offense in his first summer on campus, one Alabaman to another.
The two will now have a different relationship, as Washington recently became a graduate assistant on coach Paul Johnson’s staff. Washington will work with quarterback and B-backs coach Bryan Cook.
“He’ll probably just call me Coach,” Washington said. “It’ll probably be a little weird (for him) calling me Coach Washington.”
It may be weird for Thomas, and the few other remaining Yellow Jackets who knew Washington as a teammate and captain, but it’s a title that Washington has sought for a long time. Washington graduated from Tech in the spring of 2012 and played his final season that fall. Since then, after an unsuccessful run at professional football, he has done private coaching and was primarily working for AT&T as an assistant manager for a retail store in Conyers.
However, the idea of coaching never left him. It’s what he has wanted to do since his youth, to follow in the footsteps of his father Lewis, who was a high school basketball and football coach in Alabama. When Washington played for Tech, starting 31 games and setting an ACC single-season and career records for rushing touchdowns by a quarterback (20 and 38, respectively) and the conference career record, he tried to be an extension of the coaching staff on the field.
“I always felt like I tried to prepare myself to go into a coaching role whenever I got a chance,” he said.
Working in a business setting, he said, didn’t fulfill him in a way that he hoped coaching and working with young people could. He had been in touch with Johnson during this time; Johnson actually helped him land an assistant coaching job at a Division III school, but Washington decided to pass.
The GA that he’s replacing, former Tech captain Steven Sylvester, a one-time roommate of Washington’s, let him know last summer that he would be graduating in December and suggested he get in touch with Johnson to fill the vacancy. (Sylvester was recently hired at Jacksonville as a running backs coach.) Washington said that Johnson told him that if he was interested, the job was his. Washington is headed into a highly competitive field with little job security, but, following his mother's Monica's promptings to pursue his dreams, is where he wants to be.
“I decided when I left AT&T, my next career move wouldn’t be for the next 30 years,” he said. “I plan on coaching.”
Washington began work Jan. 4 and started classes a week later in the school’s building construction program in pursuit of a master’s degree. He has been helping with recruiting, preparing for spring practice and getting familiar with the team, players and coaches who weren’t at Tech when he played. After last season, he is hopeful that the experience gained by numerous young players will pay dividends this fall.
He’ll work closely with quarterbacks and B-backs coach Bryan Cook, who arrived in the spring of 2013 following the end of Washington’s career.
One advantage he has is his considerable familiarity with Johnson and his standards. He expects that fundamentals to get drilled this spring.
“I feel like I’m in a role to help,” Washington said. “I like helping, that’s what fulfills me.”