Corey Washington, small-school big man

August, 12, 2014
Aug 12
6:00
PM ET
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Newberry College in South Carolina is not a football hotbed. Corey Washington would admit that. But Washington, who's trying to make the New York Giants' roster this summer as a wide receiver, isn't the only Newberry guy in an NFL training camp this summer.

"No sir," the eminently polite Washington said in a wide-ranging group interview before Giants practice Tuesday. "We have [cornerback] Ron Parker with the Kansas City Chiefs, [tight end] Brandon Bostick with the Green Bay Packers and [cornerback] Kamaal McIlwain with the Buffalo Bills."

Washington estimates that 10 teams, including the Giants, came to his pro day. He caught their eye because he's 6-foot-4 and performed well that day. And with a touchdown catch in each of the Giants' first two preseason game, he's a player whose star is on the rise and whose chances of making the 53-man roster look stronger by the day.

"Corey's a big man who can run and go get the football," Giants offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo said. "That's a good place to start. He's a young guy who has a lot to learn, but he's really done some special things over the last week, and it'll be exciting to see him grow."

Washington knew he came in as a long shot who'd have to outwork people and drastically outperform expectations. But his background prepared him for that. He was quick to respond when asked why bigger schools hadn't given him a look.

"My grades, coming out of Georgia Military Junior College," he said. "My grades and my credit hours. I didn't have enough credit hours to transfer, so I think that's why."

So he went down a path that doesn't always lead to the NFL but helps in other ways.

"It's a good opportunity, to go to a smaller school, and it's not really so good," Washington said. "But small school guys come into the NFL with a chip on their shoulders."

Washington has, in Giants veteran Victor Cruz, a mentor who himself was an undrafted free agent from a school (Massachusetts) that's not a major football power. He has, in guys like Marcus Harris, Travis Harvey and Julian Talley, in-camp competitors at wide receiver who are trying to pull off the same difficult task he is. And he has momentum right now, based on the way he's playing and practicing.

"He's made plays," Giants quarterback Eli Manning said. "So that's obviously what you like to see from a receiver -- can they win those one-on-one matchups? He was able to do that on the fade last week and on the go-route the week before. Making a play, jumping over a defender to make a catch. He's still got to improve on route-running and techniques and things like that. But from a size matchup and play-making ability, he's done a good job making some plays in the games and in practice."

Dan Graziano

ESPN New York Giants reporter

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