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By Loren Kopff
@LorenKopff on Twitter
They went to the same middle school together, then were Gahr High teammates and finally displayed their talents at the University of Washington. Now, Josh Perkins and Dwayne Washington will be taking the next step in their football careers.
Washington was selected by the Detroit Lions in the seventh round (236th overall pick) of the 2016 National Football League draft last Saturday while Perkins signed with the Atlanta Falcons as a free agent. Both players will report to their respective teams next week for minicamp.
“I want to start off by saying how shocked I was,” Washington said. “Just to have this opportunity is a blessing.”
“Atlanta has been showing me the most interest throughout the whole process,” Perkins said. “They didn’t have that many picks this year, so they had been telling me the whole time that if they don’t pick me in the draft, they would like to offer me a free agent [contract].”
Washington, who declared himself eligible for the draft following his junior season, was second for the Huskies in rushing yards (282) and in touchdowns (seven) last fall. The 6’2”, 226 pound tailback had a banner sophomore season, collecting 697 yards on the ground with nine touchdowns.
As a senior at Gahr, Washington caught 66 passes for 1,338 yards and scored 15 touchdowns and in three seasons as a Gladiator, had over 2,200 receiving yards with 22 touchdowns.
Washington missed the final four games this past season due to a midseason knee injury. He did have minor surgery on his knee but that didn’t prevent him from being drafted. He finished his college career with just over 1,300 yards on the ground on 226 carries in 35 games.
“I just felt it was the best decision for me,” Washington said about leaving after his junior season. “I always dreamed of being in the NFL and I felt it was time to take my talents to the next level. I just stayed positive throughout the process and I just kept my head up.”
Washington said that he had projected himself to be drafted in the fourth or fifth round. By this time, he was getting a little nervous and his stomach even began to hurt a little on the final day of the draft. By the time it got to the sixth round, Washington fell asleep, only to wake up by that call every player dreams of getting.
Washington confessed that growing up, he was a skateboarder and didn’t take football too serious until he met Nielsen. He said he didn’t know much about scholarships. His family is from Dallas, so Washington was a Dallas Cowboys fan.
Perkins said he has been in contact with Atlanta for a couple of months and got the call during the seventh round on Saturday. He added that it’s going to be fun playing in the NFC South Division against the Carolina Panthers, New Orleans Saints and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Perkins admitted that he grew up as a Saints fan but jokes that he doesn’t like them anymore.
Perkins was a tight end at the University of Washington where he caught 36 passes for 539 yards and hauled in three touchdown passes last fall. In his sophomore and junior seasons combined, Perkins had 30 receptions for 372 yards and six touchdowns. When he was a senior at Gahr, Perkins caught 70 passes for 1,072 yards and found the end zone 11 times.
“This was a lifelong dream,” Perkins said. “I’m just excited to get the opportunity to do something that I love. It’s something that I wanted to do my whole life.”
The last Gahr football player to make it to the NFL was Jim Zorn, who was undrafted in 1975 out of California State Polytechnic University, Pomona and spent one year with the Dallas Cowboys before having a successful tenure with the Seattle Seahawks from 1976-1984.
Both Perkins and Washington have retained Carter Chow, Steve Dubin and Don Yi as their agents. Perkins and his new team will face the Los Angeles Rams on Dec. 11 at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum while the closest that Washington and the Lions will get to Southern California will be is Dallas on Dec. 26.
“I’m just excited for Dwayne, actually,” Perkins said. “Dwayne and I have been together for a long time. It’s weird that we’re not going to be playing together anymore. But I’m so excited for him. I hope he takes advantage of his opportunity. I know he will.”
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