Sam Washington became the 19th head football coach in North Carolina A&T State history on January 9, 2018. Washington also serves as the Aggies co-defensive coordinator.
In his first season as the Aggies head coach, Washington led N.C. A&T to its 10th MEAC championship. Also in his first season, Washington led the Aggies to their second straight Celebration Bowl victory and their third in four years. The Aggies were also named HBCU national champions in Washington’s first season as the Aggies finished 2018 10-2. For his efforts, Washington became the second N.C. A&T rookie coach to capture MEAC coach of the year as he tied the school record for wins by a first-year coach.
Prior to being promoted to head coach, Washington served as the Aggies defensive coordinator and secondary coach for seven years under legendary head coach Rod Broadway. In 2015, he was promoted to associate head coach. He has established himself as one of the best defensive minds in Division I-FCS.
Under Washington, the Aggies have finished out the top-20 in total defense only once nationally. In two of those seasons, they were second nationally in total defense. The run defense has finished outside the top-10 nationally only once including leading the nation in run defense in 2013.
In three of Washington’s eight seasons, the Aggies have finished among the top-10 teams in passing defense efficiency including No. 1 in 2012. The Aggies have been the MEAC’s No. 1 total defense and scoring defense five times in the past eight years. They have had the No. 1 total defense in the conference four straight seasons. N.C. A&T has also had the No. 1 rush defense in the conference seven times in eight years.
In his role as the secondary coach, seven different cornerbacks have earned All-MEAC success in D’Vonte Graham, Justin Ferrell, Tony McRae, Donald Mattocks, Marquis Boyan, Timadre Abram and Frank “Mac” McCain III with only Boyan not earning first-team honors. Graham, McRae, Mattocks and McCain have all earned All-American honors from various organizations. Two of Washington’s corners – McRae and Ayodeji Olatoye – spent multiple seasons on NFL rosters.
Olatoye made the Dallas Cowboys 53-man roster in 2015 and playing the Super Bowl in 2017. McRae has played the past two seasons for the Cincinnati Bengals and started a game in 2018.
Before arriving at A&T, Washington spent four seasons as Grambling’s defensive backs coach under Broadway. Washington played a significant role in the Tigers’ dominating defense in 2007. Nationally, the Tigers ranked 12th in total defense. The next season, Grambling led the nation in turnover margin and was third in scoring defense. Defensive back Desmond Lenard was ninth in the nation in interceptions per game. Three other defensive backs ranked among the Top-50 in interceptions per game that season.
Before Washington came to Grambling, he spent five years at his alma mater Mississippi Valley State. Washington served as an assistant head coach and defensive coordinator in addition to his customary role as the defensive backs coach. In his first season at MVSU, he transformed the Delta Devils defense from one of the worst defenses in the SWAC into the league’s No. 2 ranked defense.
Before returning to MVSU, Washington spent one season (2001) as N.C. A&T’s special teams coordinator under head coach Bill Hayes. Under Washington, the Aggies had one of the best special teams seasons in school history. The Aggies led the nation in punt return yardage per game with punt returner Curtis Deloatch breaking the NCAA’s single-season record for punt return touchdowns. Punter Yonnick Matthews was second in the MEAC in punting.
Washington also spent eight seasons at N.C. Central as the school’s assistant head coach and defensive coordinator. Led by All-American Buddy Crutchfield, Adrian Jones and Trei Oliver in 1996, Washington put together one of the best Division II defensive backfields as the Eagles went 8-3 with the best pass defense in the CIAA. In 1992, he began work at Johnson C. Smith. He was named the assistant head coach. His other duties included being the defensive and special teams coordinator, the defensive backs coach and the head track and field coach.
Washington’s coaching profession also includes a stint with Bethune-Cookman (1987-92), where he helped the Wildcats take a share of the 1988 MEAC championship. In 1998, he secured an internship with the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers under legendary head coach Tony Dungy.
Washington spent four seasons in the NFL with stops in Pittsburgh and Cincinnati. As a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Washington intercepted at least one pass in five consecutive games during the 1984 season. Before making it to the NFL, Washington played cornerback for Mississippi Valley State where he battled daily in practice with a wide receiver named Jerry Rice.
Washington earned a B.S., degree in physical education from MVSU in 1982. He was inducted into the MVSU Hall of Fame in 2006. He and his wife Donna have one son, Jarvis.