Regarded as one of the best players in the area, senior quarterback Nyema Washington finished out his high school career at Suitland in 2012 with dreams of continued success collegiately at Bowie State University. Yet, things didn’t go as planned for the former Prince George’s County Player of the Year. A granuloma, a noncancerous inflammation in tissue, on the side of his brain, delayed the Capital Heights native’s first freshman game for the Bulldogs for three years.

Former Bowie State University quarterback Nyema Washington traded a helmet for a headset and has found life after football in coaching the game that he loves. (Photo by Daniel Kucin Jr. )

Nevertheless, Washington persevered by recovering and trained relentlessly to get back into the starting lineup in 2015. The former two-time All-State standout at the time was converted into a wide receiver and didn’t get his chance to play until Nov. 17, 2015, against Virginia State University. Washington checked into the game and led an eight play, 48-yard drive, completing all his throws and a touchdown throw to seal the game with a 22-19 comeback victory.

The rest is history. Washington started every game at his true position and led the Bulldogs to their first Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) Championship game appearance since 1989. Though his team fell to Winston-Salem State University 17-14, Washington won MVP honors, and it seemed that the best was yet to come from the gunslinger.

However, with triumph came tragedy. Coming into the following season, Washington was slated to be the day one starter until he suffered a severe knee injury during training camp shortly before the beginning of the 2016-2017 football campaign.

Despite rehabbing to get back into the mix, doctors told him he should put the game behind because of the injuries that mounted up during his football career. “I would never have guessed that my first year would be my last playing football and that I would never play again,” Washington said after his successful rookie of the year campaign.

“After the injury, it was hard because you were the man and you get a little cocky from the hype,” Washington said. “Getting hurt put everything into reality for me and I don’t think that it was a coincidence that Amir (Hall) had my number. I think that everything was a revelation from God telling me to humble myself. Amir had the blessed year that he had, and I thought that maybe God wanted me to be a part of football in another life.”

Former Bowie State University quarterback Nyema Washington traded a helmet for a headset and has found life after football in coaching the game that he loves. (Photo by Daniel Kucin Jr. )

Even though it was a painful decision to stop playing football, Washington traded a helmet for a headset as Head Coach Damon Wilson gave him the opportunity to be the quarterback’s coach and remain with the team. “I got into coaching Amir (Hall) that year and that opened up my eyes about coaching. As a quarterback, I always had a mind for the game and watching film, and I think that helped me transition into a coach.”

Washington mentored the sophomore into one of the best quarterbacks in the conference. Under his guidance, Hall has thrown for over 7,000 yards, averaged over 300 yards per game, and tossed 71 touchdowns over the past two seasons.

Bowie State’s overwhelming success offensively, under Washington’s tutelage, offered him a new venture in West Virginia with the ability to recruit players from his old stomping grounds. He recently accepted a position to be the passing coordinator for West Virginia State. Washington will be joining a team with a 6-5 record last season, but he is excited about rebuilding the Bobcats by coaching the position that is close to his heart.

“It is a great honor to coach here,” Washington said. “The energy is high here, and they brought in a great staff and recruiting class. It is an exciting time to be here, and I am glad to be a part of it.”

Even though Washington’s glory days of playing football are over, he has found a second chance in life after football at coaching, and the sky is the limit for the comeback kid.

A previous version of this story identified Wilson as the quarterback’s coach for West Virginia Wesleyan College. His correct title is passing coordinator for West Virginia State. The AFRO regrets the error.