Matt Waldman’s RSP Boiler Room examines Oklahoma State wide receiver James Washington’s ability to control his opponent in the vertical game.
There are several facets of vertical route running that are as important, if not more important than deep speed. Not all of them are essential, but most winning vertical routes feature a receiver showcasing more than one of these skills:
- Selling the stem with the eyes, maintaining a straight line to hold the defender’s position until the break and with good early acceleration.
- Use of the hands and arms to work through contact.
- Earning position in front of the defender to control the pace of the route as the ball arrives.
- Owning horizontal real estate that gives the quarterback room to deliver an accurate ball that exploits east-west space as well as north-south.
- Late hands that don’t reach for the ball until the target is directly overhead.
James Washington isn’t always flashy, but he’s an efficient, focused vertical receiver whose game is worth a second (and a third and a fourth) look.
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