Wide receivers drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers have been blessed with the opportunity to wear the black and gold while receiving passes from Ben Roethlisberger at Heinz Field. Newly drafted wide receiver James Washington already has a leg up on many of his predecessors when it comes to getting accustomed to the Steelers way. While he has not had the benefit of catching passes from Roethlisberger just yet, the receiver has already had his fair share of catches at Heinz Field.
In fact, some of Washington’s best collegiate performances have either come at Heinz Field or against the Pittsburgh Panthers.
Back tracking to last season, Washington was a major factor in Oklahoma State’s 59-21 road victory against the Panthers. In the stadium that he will now play eight home games a year in, Washington recorded five receptions for 124 yards, averaging 24.8 yards per reception. With 8:45 left in the second quarter, the Oklahoma State receiver had just one reception for seven yards but from there, he was almost unstoppable. From that point on, Washington recorded four receptions but averaged 29.3 yards per reception.
In Washington’s other matchup against the Panthers, the wide receiver was close to shattering the Big-12 record books. In another victory, he recorded nine receptions for 296 yards with two touchdowns. That’s not a misprint, Washington defeated the Panthers almost single handily, nearing 300 yards and two touchdowns. While this performance did not come at home, his performance against the city he will now play for is still eye popping. Washington fell just 18 yards short of the Big-12 record for receiving yards in a game.
The Oklahoma State receiver’s cumulative stat line against the Panthers reads better than some receiver’s seasonal totals. In two games against his new home city, Washington racked up 420 receiving yards. His performances against the Panthers helped the new Steelers receiver close in on many other Big-12 records as well.
Washington finished just six touchdowns and 114 yards short of the Big-12 all time record for receiving yards (Ryan Broyles had 4586 yards and 45 TDs), perhaps needing one more game at Heinz Field to surpass Broyles’ totals. Though he will not get a chance to play again at Heinz Field as a member of the Oklahoma State Cowboys, he will get at least eight chances a season as a member of the Steelers organization.
What will make Heinz Field feel even more like his collegiate days are the passers Washington will have throwing to him. Roethlisberger will quickly take a liking to his new vertical threat and even though the quarterback may be in the twilight of his career, he still thrives as a deep passer – an aspect that will only fuel Washington’s game.
And should Roethlisberger depart, Washington will be happy to know that his Oklahoma State partner in crime will likely be responsible for throwing him the football. With the selection of his former teammate Mason Rudolph in the third round, the Steelers are hoping for an extended success of Washington at Heinz Field for the foreseeable future. The duo’s performances against the Panthers is now more than just a high point in their college careers, it could also be a sign of good things to come.