Washington having historical season for Virginia

By Jerry Ratcliffe

Photo: UVA Athletics

Virginia fans have seen great receivers over the past several decades, from John Ford and Herman Moore to Billy McMullen and Heath Miller, Dontayvion Wicks and Olamide Zaccheaus.

Now, it’s Malik Washington’s time.

Washington can rewrite many of UVA’s receiving records the next two weeks if he continues on the pace he has set this season. The graduate transfer from Northwestern ranks No. 2 in the nation in all three major receiving categories heading into Saturday’s home game with Duke.

He is No. 2 to LSU’s Malik Nabors (who has the benefit of a Heisman Trophy quarterback) in receiving yards with 1,199.

He is No. 2 to Nabors in receiving yards per game (119.9) and is No. 2 in receptions per game with 8.8.

In 10 games this season, Washington has 88 receptions and 7 touchdowns. His 88 catches are only five shy of the UVA season record held by Zaccheaus in 2018. With his performance at Louisville last Thursday night, Washington leapfrogged McMullen (83 receptions in 2001) and Zaccheaus’ 2017 effort of 85 catches, on the Cavaliers’ all-time list.

Consider that only two players in Wahoo history have more 100-yard receiving games, and Washington has only played 10 games in a UVA uniform.

Pro Football Focus, which grades college players at every position weekly, has Washington with the third-highest grade on the season of any receiver in the country.

Fans have to give credit to Tony Elliott and offensive coordinator Des Kitchings for continuing to find ways to get Washington the ball, even though defenses are trying to find ways to take Washington away from being so effective.

Opposing coordinators are doing everything to not allow Washington to get behind their defenders because the speedy UVA receiver isn’t only fast, but elusive, with some of the best yards-after-catch numbers in the nation.