TAMPA — Tampa Bay Tech senior quarterback Xavione Washington doesn’t have a go-to receiver.
He goes to anybody who is open, and somebody always seems to be open.
“I have many, many weapons,” Washington said. “And I can go to any of them at any time.”
Through a 3-0 start to the season, Washington has completed passes to nine different players, and that number will no doubt increase as the season goes on, Titans coach Jayson Roberts said. “We have so much talent at receiver that it’s crazy.”
The top six include junior Javion Mckay, sophomore Dallas Wilson, junior Kendall Johnson, junior Jonye Rosebury, senior Mekhi Penix (brother of former TBT and current University of Washington quarterback Michael Penix) and sophomore Santonyo Isaac.
While they have many things in common, including speed, agility and coordination, they do have different styles.
Mckay is the fastest, with sub 4.5-second 40-yard speed, but he’s also the shortest, listed at 5-foot-7, hence his nickname, “Short.”
Mckay, who finished last season with 36 receptions for 471 yards, has so far this year caught five passes for 163 yards and three touchdowns, including one for 63 yards.
Wilson, in his first year as a full-time receiver after playing safety last year at Wharton, leads the Titans with 10 catches for 215 yards and two touchdowns. He’s 6-foot-3 and is tough over the middle.
Penix, at 6-4, 170 pounds, is the greatest threat to snag a jump ball thrown over the top. He’s being recruited by several colleges as a tight end, but he can shift out wide.
Like Penix, Rosebury, Isaac and Johnson are versatile (Johnson also punts and kicks off) and consistent.
Isaac has yet to play this season because of some paperwork issues, but Roberts said Isaac definitely will be in a game soon, a notion that makes TBT look even more legit, given that Isaac has received scholarship offers from 10 major universities. Last year as a freshman, he caught 18 passes for 501 yards and five touchdowns.
Washington — who led TBT to a 14-0 record last year before losing 42-14 to St. Thomas Aquinas in the Class 7A final — said he looks at his weapons and licks his chops, beginning with Friday night’s game against Bloomingdale (1-2) and the others that will follow.
The optimism for the aerial attack is further bolstered by the addition of dynamic running back Roderick Gainey, who already has 341 yards and four touchdowns on 32 carries. Key on Gainey? Then, Washington quickly finds one of his other weapons.
Overall, Washington says that despite the loss of Greg Gaines III (69 receptions, 954 yards, 11 touchdowns in 2021) to Iowa State, this year’s group “could end up being the best ever at Tech.”
“They know what it takes to be great,” said Washington, who has completed 15 of 22 passes for 280 yards and three touchdowns after sitting out the first game for disciplinary reasons. “None of them has ever come up to me and said, ‘Throw the ball more to me.’ They are all satisfied after the games. They’re on the same page.”
Perhaps most telling is how the group blocks for one another, a key element in the Titans’ full-on attack, which involves a great deal of on-the-fly run-pass option.
Washington says he often has looked off two receivers and gone to the third option, a luxury he enjoys partly thanks to his receivers’ stout blocking, particularly on the perimeter.
“I love to block,” Wilson said. “I love to hit a guy with a block and see my teammate take off for a touchdown.”
“You have to be unselfish,” Penix said. “That’s how we make it work.”
Mckay says he is confident the corps will continue pounding out the same beat.
“We’re all in this together,” he said. “We’re all here for each other.”