Tony Washington wants to take the lessons he learned from Dion Jordan and help Oregon replace the highest-drafted defensive player in school history.
Washington spent last season as the back-up to Jordan, who was listed as a defensive end by Oregon but often lined up at linebacker.
"Just always go, always attack," Washington said of what he learned from Jordan, who is now with the Miami Dolphins after being picked third overall in the NFL Draft. "You have to win every play. You need the mindset that you are never going to be beaten. I don't care if you are pass rushing against an offensive tackle, or out there against a receiver or running back, you have to win every play."
The 6-foot-3 Washington is four inches shorter than Jordan, but he is almost equal to Jordan's 244 pounds.
"In the offseason, I tried to gain a little weight," said Washington, a junior who is listed at 243. "I wanted to be more stout, especially in run plays. I got to 247, I was trying to get to 250, but didn't quite reach that. I still feel good, I can still move around quite well, so it works out."
Washington is considered the likely starter in place of Jordan and could be in line for a breakthough season, but said he is preparing like any other year.
"Honestly, I come into camp with the same mindset and that is just to prove myself," he said. "I want my teammates and coaches to be comfortable with me out there, so I am going hard every play."
Washington was not able to do that fully during spring practices after suffering an injury, but said he is healthy this fall.
"I think it is going great, it feels good to be healthy," Washington said. "In spring ball I kind of held back due to a little bit of injuries. It feels good to be out there running around. It feels comfortable out there. I am doing my job, doing what I can do."
Washington did what he could to help while sidelined in the spring and has been praised by coach Mark Helfrich as one of the leaders on defense.
"I had to do more coaching than playing, so it is fun to be back out there," Washington said. "I just love the game so much, I wanted to be out there playing football."
Washington played mostly on the defensive line during his first two years at Oregon before filling in for Jordan at multiple spots.
"I played that position behind him all last season, so I know what I need to do," he said. "I think there is a lot more freedom playing that type of position. Sometimes you are a rush end, sometimes in coverage. I think that is more fun."
Washington played in every game last year and started the Fiesta Bowl victory over Kansas State, in addition to a win over California. He finished the season with 20 tackles after getting 18 as a freshman.
He was one of many defenders in the Ducks' rotation last year and will be again whether he is a starter or not.
"That is what we do, next man up," he said. "You have got to be confident because everyone out there is going to get the same amount of plays, so you have to be prepared no matter what. You go hard for some plays, get a rest when somebody else is in there, and they come out and you go back in so that you are always fresh."