Sam Washington is in his fourth season as the Aggies defensive coordinator and secondary coach.
He has established himself as one of the best defensive coaches in Division I-FCS. The Aggies’ improvement defensively under Washington is undeniable. The Aggies defense has never finished lower than eighth nationally in the three years under Washington. The run defense has never finished any lower than seventh in the nation. Over the past two seasons A&T’s pass defense has finished first and ninth respectively. A year before his arrival in 2011, A&T was ranked 89th in total defense, 114th in rushing defense and 78th in pass defense in the nation.
A year later found the Aggies ranked eighth in total defense, seventh in rush defense and 42nd in pass defense. In 2012, those rankings would be even more impressive. A&T led the MEAC in total defense, rush defense and were second in pass defense. Nationally, the Aggies had the No. 2 overall defense in addition to the No. 3 rush defense and the No. 1 pass defense. Last season the Aggies had the best rush defense in the nation, the ninth-best pass defense and they ranked fourth overall in total defense. His efforts have helped linebacker D’Vonte Grant become an All-MEAC player in addition to being a Jerry Rice Finalist.
In his role as the secondary coach, three players have enjoyed All-MEAC success, cornerbacks D’Vonte Graham and Justin Ferrell and strong safety Travis Crosby have all earned all-conference honors twice under Washington. Ayodeji Olatoye signed a free agent contract with the Baltimore Ravens after the 2014 NFL Draft. He also oversaw the successful position switch of Terence Webb from reserve quarterback to starting cornerback in 2011.
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. During the next season, Washington’s defensive backfield played a vital role in Grambling being one of the most opportunistic defenses in the country.
Grambling led the nation in turnover margin and were third in scoring defense. Defensive back Desmond Lenard returned one interception for a touchdown and 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 A&T’s special teams coordinator under then 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 current A&T assistant coach Trei Oliver in 1996, Washington put together one of the best defensive backfields in Division II 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 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 is no stranger to the NFL. He 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.
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.