Rams sign Denzel's son
BY BILL COATS
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
Running back John David Washington tries to cut outside in a Morehouse College game.
The Rams have gone Hollywood.
Not only is new head coach Scott Linehan the brother-in-law of actor Jim Caviezel, who played Jesus in the film "Passion of the Christ," but now the team has signed the son of a two-time Academy Award winner.
That would be running back John David Washington, son of movie star Denzel Washington. John David, the leading career rusher at NCAA Division II Morehouse College, is among 10 undrafted free agents the Rams have added in the wake of the weekendís NFL draft.
That group includes Ed Nelson, a basketball player at the University of Connecticut who hasnít played football since his freshman year of high school. The Rams will audition the 6-foot-8, 265-pound at tight end.
Nelson was a reserve power forward who averaged 3.2 points and 3.1 rebounds this past season for the Huskies, who finished 30-4 after losing to George Mason in NCAA Tournament Elite Eight. But now, football is Nelsonís game.
"I have great confidence," Nelson said. ""This is something that really excites me. . . . I think if I can just get a year of football under my belt, I can be a pretty good player." Agent Joe Linta reported that Nelson signed a two-year deal with the Rams.
Denzel Washington earned a "best actor" Oscar in 2001 for "Training Day" and was named "best supporting actor" in 1989 for his role in "Glory." He was a running back in high school and played one year of football at Fordham University before turning to acting. Among his well-known roles: high school football coach Herman Boone in "Remember The Titans."
John David Washington, 5-10 and 200 pounds, said his success in football had nothing to do with his fatherís success on the screen. "This is my thing," he told the los Angeles Daily News. "My father supports me 100 percent, but thereís nothing he did as far as his star influence to get me here."
In the same interview, Denzel Washington said: "For a kid to have that dream and be this close, and for a dad who had the same dream and didn't make it, needless to say I'm very proud and happy for him. . . . Nothing would make me happier than to be known as John David Washington's dad."
Anthony Harris, football coach at Campbell Hall High in North Hollywood, Calif., said John David never used his fatherís fame for personal gain. "He was a quiet kind of guy, really respectful, great manners -- yes sir, no sir, yes ma'am," Harris said. "You could tell he came from a good family."
Washington holds Morehouse records for rushing yards in a game (242), season (1,198) and career (3,699). He was the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conferenceís offensive player of the week six times and an all-conference selection after his senior season.
The Rams also signed defensive end Kory Lothe. He was a four-year starter for coach Bob Spoo at Eastern Illinois, the reigning Ohio Valley Conference champion. Lothe's 195 career tackles included 24 sacks. Lothe, who hails from Sun Prairie, Wis., was an all-conference pick this past season.
"I received a call from the Rams about two minutes after the draft ended," Lothe said. "Itís a great feeling to have this opportunity, although it hasnít really hit me yet. Iíve worked so long for this . . . and now itís here."
Ramsí undrafted free agents
Name, Pos. ...... Ht., Wt. ...... College
Antoine Bagwell, RB ... 5-11, 186 ... California (Pa.)
Josh Cummings, K ... 5-10, 175 ... Pittsburgh
Mike Degory, C ... 6-5, 305 ... Florida
Kory Lothe, DE ... 6-4, 267 ... Eastern Illinois
Ed Nelson, TE ... 6-7, 266 ... Connecticut
Donovan Raiola, C ... 6-2, 300 ... Wisconsin
Tim Sandidge, DT ... 6-1, 310 ... Virginia Tech
Clinton Solomon, WR ... 6-3, 214 ... Iowa
John David Washington, RB ... 5-9, 190 ... Morehouse
Jonathan Williams, TE ... 6-3, 246 ... New Hampshire