The Georgia Bulldogs are well into preparations for the College Football Playoff National Championship against Texas Christian University next Monday, and could be without tight end Darnell Washington for the contest.
Washington has a strained ankle and soft-tissue bruise, and is officially questionable to play on Jan. 9, according to ESPN's Mark Schlabach. Bulldogs coach Kirby Smart told ESPN that Washington's injury wasn't a high ankle sprain and will not require surgery, which increases his chances of playing against the No. 3 seeded Horned Frogs at SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles.
Washington is a potential first-round pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, and was hurt early in the second quarter of No. 1 Georgia's 42-41 victory over Ohio State in the semifinal at the Chick-fil-A Bowl on Saturday night.
The injury came on a play when Ohio State Buckeyes linebacker Steele Chambers intercepted a Stetson Bennett pass. Washington didn't return to the game, and told ESPN afterwards that X-rays of his ankle were negative. He was seen wearing a walking boot and using crutches not long after on the sideline.
The 6-foot-7, 260-pound junior from Las Vegas, NV is one of Georgia's two tight ends, along with All-American Brock Bowers. The team relies on both big men to both receive and block. Per ESPN, the Bulldogs used two tight-end sets 59 percent of the time going into the semifinal against Ohio State, the third most in the FBS.
“He tried to go back and couldn't go back on it,” Smart said after the game. “We'll have to evaluate and see. The good news is he's got more than a normal week. I know he'll do everything he can to get back. He's headed out west towards where he's from. It will be important to him to try to get back.”
Darnell Washington had 27 catches for 426 yards with two scores this season, and would be a huge loss for Georgia if he can't play in the National Championship against TCU next Monday.