USF Senior Writer
TAMPA - The "old Q" is returning to form for the Bulls.
Cornerback Quenton Washington has been battling a lingering knee issue this season, but definitely looked like his normal self on Oct. 15 when he broke up two passes and posted two tackles (one for a loss) at Pittsburgh.
If you kept an eye on No. 2 during the ESPN broadcast, you could see Washington moving much quicker than he did in prior games this season. He also brought an aggressive style of play to Pittsburgh, especially when he knocked QB Tino Sunseri back for a 2-yard loss.
"It's always good to get the old Q back," safety Jerrell Young said. "Anytime you can get him back out there running around and playing fast it makes a lot of our jobs easier."
Washington, a fifth-year senior, has been dealing with the knee issues since preseason camp. He fought through the pain while starting in the Bulls' first three games of the season before he had to shut it down for the 52-24 victory over UTEP on Sept. 24.
"It hurt me to see him not playing and to see that he was hurting," said Young, Washington's close friend. "He wasn't saying anything about it, but he'd try to pick us up."
That's an attribute Washington has acquired over time and something he's worked on well before he was named a team captain.
Young remembers all the way back to the beginning when he and Washington began their USF careers as redshirt freshmen in 2007.
"He didn't know what was going on. He was crazy running around," Young said with a grin on his face. "Over the years he grew."
Washington grabbed the reigns this offseason and started guiding the team during workouts. He even invited teammates to his place on a normal basis in order to help bring the team closer.
"You can see the growth in him coming from a young boy to a man," Young said.
Washington's leadership can easily be noticed in practice, especially the week he had to sit out. You could basically call him a coach without a whistle because he analyzes how players are adjusting to situations when he's on the sideline taking a break.
"I stand behind the secondary and talk with them and let them know things that I see, maybe that you wouldn't see when you're on the field because the game is going so fast," Washington said.
It might seem like a minor thing to the average person, but it speaks volumes for younger players. Blossoming Bulls listen up and certainly appreciate the words of advice coming from a guy who has started 28 of the 40 games he's played at USF.
"Younger guys really look up to him because they know he's been starting for three-four years," Young said. "Any time a young guy looks up to him, they know they can count on him."
Last Thursday marked Washington's return to the starting lineup and it was a nice welcome back for a player who also wants to lead by example.
"It's my senior year. All I want to do is be out there with my teammates and help them win and make plays for our team," he said.
Soon he'll be back to doing it at full speed.
"I'll be ready to go by UConn," Washington said.