By Justin Braden
Pickensville, AL –
Coriyan ‘Yae” Washington was once the boy they never believed in, but now he is the 3-star, 6 foot 6, 280-pound offensive lineman out of Fultondale High School who stands atop the mountain of self-made opportunity.
Yae had a high school career of ups and downs. COVID-19 washed out freshman seasons for most of 2024's graduating class, but on top of that, Washington endured anxiety, depression, and injury, to overcome the odds and open his comeback tour starting with his senior year.
“I won’t say I made history, but I will say that we made history. It’s always good teamwork.”
The Fultondale Wildcats were (4-7, 4-2 in Region 6-4A), but had their first playoff berth in years, and Washington was the foundation of that offensively and defensively. As the nose tackle in a 3-4 defense, he was the lynchpin of the defensive line, and his versatility on offense had him playing every position on the offensive front five.
A knee injury during practice his junior year sidelined him for the rest of the 2022 season, but the obstacle placed before him was not immovable to a man with his mental determination and physical conditioning.
“You’ve got to fail in life to be successful. (My injury) was the worst pain I’ve ever felt. I went to the doctor, and they said I had a torn meniscus. Always believe in yourself because people don’t realize that I used to deal with pain, anxiety, depression, and never believing that I would be anybody.”
Washington’s embrace of failure and pain is refreshing to hear from a young student-athlete. Most people are afraid to approach failure and hide from pain, but Yae has a sincere value in failing and realizes that it is those who are challenging themselves the most that face the most obstacles in life.
“I’ve been having seizures since I was like 10, but they stopped when I was like 13. I went to the doctor, and they said it was from anxiety.”
Yae found that staying active and keeping both his body and mind moving is the solution to his anxiety, and it shows in his film highlights, as he can quickly pull as an offensive lineman to protect a mobile quarterback, with his precise footwork that wastes no motion.
“They put me on medication for a while, but I don’t really take a lot of medication like that because it makes me feel like I’m not myself. I’m 100% raw energy. What I do to work through it is get a stress ball or swing something around.”
Washington's technical approach helps him problem-solve on and off the field, and his approach genuinely showcases how he has overcome bouts of anxiety and depression by having mental versatility.
“I can outsmart somebody and beat somebody physically and mentally. My biggest thing is that I can use brute strength, but I’m more of a technician.”
Many men hide from talking about their personal battles, but Washington is more than a man, he is woven from the same cloth as the superheroes that the world grows up reading about.
Coriyan’s mother knew exactly what to say to motivate her child, molding him into a man as he has faced life’s most difficult challenges, and as he recovered from the knee injury, she reminded him, “It’s just a minor setback for a major comeback.”
“My mother is very important in my life. She always motivates me about school and athletics and reminds me to always hang around the right crowd. She’s always been there for me.”
His brother, a talented mechanic who cultivated an interest in riding four-wheelers together, has been a mentor to him also, playing a key role in his life and once reminding Yae, to "be the best version of you every single day.”
“I look up to my older brother for always keeping me in place and never leading me in the wrong direction.”
Washington's comeback tour is about to headline in Pickensville this coming Wednesday as he makes his major announcement about where he will begin his career as a student-athlete.
“I took a visit to Mississippi State, and I loved the visit, and I'm very blessed to be in a position to go there, but my top 3 right now are Peru State, Judson University, and South Carolina.”
Coriyan Washington is a motivator and a leader. Whoever has him on his team will have more than an athlete on a team, they will have someone who makes an impact in their community also and someone who can mentor young student-athletes as they face adversity.
“Always be yourself, never feel like you have to be in the streets like you have to do something to be bad, or be violent because there are always money and opportunities out there in the world. If you don't chase them, they will never come to you."
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