Catching up

Hayfield's Larry Asante heads to the NFL

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By Alan Goldenbach
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, May 5, 2010

When colleague Josh Barr and I were talking last week about all the former Washington area players who either were drafted or signed rookie free-agent contracts with NFL teams, we acknowledged one inevitable fact.

We're going to miss someone. We always do.

This year we initiall missed Hayfield product Larry Asante, who took the junior college route to Nebraska, where he played safety the past three seasons and became a fifth-round pick of the Cleveland Browns.

Asante was a first-team selection at running back in the Virginia AAA Patriot District during his senior season at Hayfield in 2004, and had some recruiting interest from Virginia and Virginia Tech. He could not, however, meet NCAA initial academic standards, and instead went to Coffeyville (Kan.) Community College -- an easy recipe for falling off the radar.

Asante did not play in 2005, but after a standout 2006 season as a linebacker at Coffeyville (76 tackles, 11 tackles) made him one of the nation's premier junior college recruits, Asante moved on to Nebraska.

Upon arriving in Lincoln in 2007, Asante channeled his inner George Costanza and nicknamed himself, "The Assassin," because he wanted to become a physical, aggressive hitter. Unlike the forlorn Seinfeld character, though, Asante lived up to his billing, registering more than 200 tackles in three seasons as a starting safety for the Cornhuskers.

Asante will be in the same training camp as Browns' first-round pick Joe Haden (Friendly) and free-agent signee Nekos Brown (Thomas Stone).

Remembering Robert Jackson

Sad news comes to us with the passing of former H.D. Woodson All-Met offensive lineman Robert Jackson, who died April 21 of heart failure. He was 37.

Jackson was one of the area's most heavily recruited players during his senior season in Fall 1990, before he signed with Clemson. The 6-foot-7, 330-pound Jackson (an enormous figure by the standards 20 years ago) was a big talent in more ways than one, from the moment he arrived at Woodson.

According to former Warriors Coach Bob Headen, Jackson was nicknamed "Future" because even though he arrived at Woodson at only 250 pounds, Jackson evoked memories of former Warrior Raymond "World" Smith, who played at 460 pounds before going on to Grambling.

"We saw him and said, 'That's the Future,'" Headen recalled, "and the name just stuck."

As big as Jackson stood, he would routinely stay late after practice and work out at Woodson. Headen one time asked him why he did it, and Jackson replied that he lived in a dangerous neighborhood and feared for his safety.

"I was crazy enough to believe it," Headen said, "but it turned out it was just a trick he used to get me to give him a ride home."

When Jackson went down to Clemson, he would brag to his teammates that D.C. could hold its own on the football field. Jackson became so insistent that he helped arranged a game between Woodson and a South Carolina high school. The Warriors lost a close game to Seneca High, but Headen recalled Jackson feeling vindicated afterward that his alma mater represented itself well.

"He was a good kid, a smart kid," Headen said. "A lot of South Carolina people came up for the funeral [on Apr. 28] and I think that tells you a lot about him."

If you know of a former Washington-area athlete who has some recent collegiate or professional accomplishments that warrant spotlighting, or if you want to know how for former athlete is doing, shoot me an email at goldenbacha@washpost.com


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