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Former Redskin teammates reunite at Osbourn with common goal

© Leesburg Today - 08/23/2015

Whey they played together with the Washington Redskins, Chris Samuels liked the way Khary Campbell and Marcus Washington represented themselves and the team.

Detail-oriented, prepared, motivated, selfless. All those characteristics defined Campbell and Washington and explained why Redskin teammates selected them to receive the Ed Block Courage Award based on attributes like sportsmanship and inspiration. Campbell won it in 2005 and Washington won it in 2007.

In assembling his coaching staff as Osbourn High School's first-year head coach, Samuels, a former all-pro offensive tackle, wanted assistants who knew football, but also served as role models. Campbell and Washington fit the profile.

""Chris has a vision and we are here to support that vision,"" Campbell said. ""He needed help. We came to help.""

After being hired in late January, Samuels contacted Campbell first about coming aboard. The two remained close friends after their NFL careers ended. Campbell had told Samuels that if Samuels ever became a head coach to let him know so Campbell could assist.

The addition of Washington came through a chance encounter at a Washington Wizards game when Washington and his wife crossed paths with Samuels and his wife. Washington had heard a rumor that Samuels was a high school head football coach in the area, but knew nothing more. Samuels offered Washington a spot on the staff that night at the game if Washington was interested.

Washington took a week to think about it before accepting.

""I love it,"" Washington said. ""There are times when I almost want to get in there and play with the kids. We're teaching them the game. And when they get it down, it's a special feeling.""

On paper, Campbell is the defensive coordinator and linebackers coach, while Washington coaches the defensive line. But Campbell views he and Washington as equal contributors.

""This is a co-effort,"" said Campbell, who like Washington, volunteer their time and receive no stipends. ""It's not about one guy.""

The two Ashburn residents refrain from talking about their NFL career with the Osbourn players. Washington played nine seasons as a linebacker with Indianapolis and Washington, while Campbell was a linebacker and special teams standout for eight seasons with four different teams.

""They can't relate to [the NFL],"" said Campbell, who was with Washington from 2004-08. ""They have to go through so many steps. It's a process and lots of sacrifice.""

Campbell and Washington instead focus on teaching the game at its most fundamental level, knowing many players lack an understanding of rudimentary football strategy. Campbell and Washington see their job as building each player's football IQ, remembering they are not dealing with experienced NFL players.

""You have to explain stuff and you can't take it for granted,"" Washington said. ""You have to be patient.""

Neither Washington nor Campbell have ever coached varsity football before. Washington's only experience as a high school coach came last year when he assisted the freshman team at Loudoun County High School. Campbell has coached in the NFL's Prep 100 Series for high school players.

But the return of wide receivers/defensive backs coach Justin Fisher and offensive line coach Rich McCleskey from last year's staff as well as former head coach Steve Schultze, who will serve as the offensive coordinator this season, has helped Campbell and Washington adjust to coaching high school.

The two knew little about the Osbourn players until they all showed up the first day of practice Aug. 3 when Samuels estimated 70 were in attendance. Since then, at least 10 to 12 have dropped out, but the focus remains the same for the coaches as they find ways to rebuild following a 3-7 season in 2014.

In his short time working with the Eagles, Campbell has gained a deeper appreciation for the commitment high school coaches give to their players and school.

""I have a great respect for high school coaches across the country and how impactful they are in the community and the sacrifices they make,"" Campbell said.

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