By Matt Popchock
One of the top rookies in the Arena Football League this past season will be staying home for his sophomore year.
The Pittsburgh Power have re-signed former Aliquippa and University of Hawaii star Mike Washington, the team’s leading receiver from 2011, the team announced Tuesday afternoon.
“Retaining Washington was a high priority for us this off-season,” said team owner and GM Matt Shaner in a press release.
Affectionately known as “The Joystick,” Washington appeared in all but one of the Power’s inaugural 18 regular season games, hauling in a team-best 114 passes for 1,367 yards and 30 touchdowns.
Washington also led the Power in total scoring with 192 points, including one touchdown run on nine carries for 27 yards, and the first home-field kick return TD in franchise history July 10 against the Arizona Rattlers. He ended the season with 385 return yards on 18 attempts, the second-most on the team.
“His play on the field speaks for itself. But beyond that, he is a local player who found his way to us through the open tryouts and has made the most of that opportunity,” head coach Chris Siegfried added. “He’ll only get better as he plays this game more. He has game changing talent and great drive to succeed.”
In addition, the Power have also decided to bring back defensive back Bryan Williams, a late-season addition from the University of Akron.
While Washington has recently drawn interest from NFL teams, Williams did enjoy a brief stint in the league after getting drafted by the Cleveland Browns in 2009. Prior to joining the Power in Week 18, Williams was with the Marion Blue Racers, the 2011 runners-up in the now-defunct Continental Indoor Football League.
Williams recorded eight solo tackles in two games, including five to go with three passes defended in a 61-48 road victory over the Philadelphia Soul July 22 in the finale of the Power’s first AFL season.
“Bryan can shut down wide receivers and brings us an added dimension to our special teams and offense,” Siegfried said. “Having him for a full season will be a great asset to us.”
(Follow me on Twitter: twitter.com/mpopchock)