Former Mizzou wide receiver L'Damian Washington has accepted a job on Eli Drinkwitz's staff as the new director of player development. Now, as cool as that sounds how many people actually know what that means? What does a director of player development do? Well, we'll get into that but first let's get a refresher on Washington.
Washington played at Missouri under former head coach Gary Pinkel from 2010-2013. In his career at Mizzou, Washington logged 100 catches for 1735 yds and 15 TDs. Washington was a dynamic receiver at Mizzou and a fan-favorite for a long time as he always seemed to have a smile on his face. However, Washington was an undrafted free agent in 2014 and jumped from team to team in the NFL trying to find a spot. It just never worked out for him there. Despite that, L'Damian Washington was always trying to find a way to play football as he also most recently played for the St.Louis Battlehawks of the XFL and the Birmingham Iron of the AAF before that. So, Washington has still been in and around the game consistently before joining the Mizzou staff.
If you've been paying attention, the move from football player to part of the coaching staff has been in the works for awhile and Washington really wanted to be involved with the program still and had been subliminally tweeting about a potential career move back to Columbia. On top of that, Washington also met with coach Drinkwitz back before the season privately to talk about their goals where most would assume the move was likely talked about.
Fast Forward to November and L'Damian Washington has been added to the staff as the director of player development. So what exactly does that consist of? Essentially, a director of player development is someone who helps players with finances, their career after football, personal matters, playing tips, and how to deal with the media. At just 29 years old still, this position fits Washington perfectly as he can relate to a lot of the players and be almost like a friend who happens to be on staff as well.
Washington having been on campus for four years and a fringe professional player, can certainly guide players and newcomers who may have questions about how to handle their business. This role is more important than a lot of people may see it. In an age where mental health is a big focal point and younger players have so many new obstacles to deal with in life and in their activities, having a guy like Washington around to reach out to is vital to having a welcoming and inviting locker room.
The big takeaway from this move, however, is that many people who enter the world of coaching start out in smaller positions like these which means Washington's future in coaching is bright and this could be the beginning to something special. Washington has experienced all kinds of different aspects as a player, but now he'll have the chance to pick the brains of coaches and learn how to deal with player issues and form relationships which is key to becoming a successful coach.
Washington has always been a charismatic guy and a program ambassador for awhile so this move should come as no surprise. Mizzou fans should be excited about his return and it will be interesting to see where this takes Washington and the program as a whole.