This is one in an occasional, ongoing series about former NBA star and Baltimore native Carmelo Anthony’s Team Melo spring and summer program. We previously profiled Malik Washington prior to his sophomore season.

Last Thursday evening, as temperatures hovered in the mid-90s, Archbishop Spalding quarterback Malik Washington was in his happy place, battering his opponents with aerial haymakers at Whittles Field during seven-on-seven summer football scrimmages against Randallstown, Broadneck and Arundel high schools.

Washington is considered one of the top quarterback prospects in the country, and is dripping with NFL potential. He holds scholarship offers from Maryland, Penn State, Virginia Tech, Arkansas, Oregon and Texas A&M, among others. That list will grow during his junior campaign.

Archbishop Spalding's Malik Washington looks for his receiver during seven-on-seven scrimmages last week. (Dylan Thiessen/The Baltimore Banner)

Last year, as a sophomore and a first-time starter, the 6-foot-6, 210-pound Washington led the Anne Arundel County school to an 11-1 record and its first MIAA A Conference championship while amassing 2,979 passing yards and 29 touchdowns. He also ran the ball 33 times for 167 yards and four TDs.

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Now, he’s preparing for what’s next. From the moment he trots onto the turf for the Cavaliers’ first possession of the night, his eyes sparkle with merriment, often flashing a Cheshire cat’s grin while talking with coaches and teammates. He seems equally unbothered by the searing heat and the defensive secondary that is determined to curtail Spalding’s prolific pass offense.

But Washington puts on a veritable clinic, dissecting each team he faces with surgical precision as 90% of the Cavaliers’ drives end with a touchdown. He sprays a stunning array of passes with shocking accuracy all over the field. Some of the balls float beautifully through the air, softly falling into the hands of his receivers.

Others slice through the oppressive humidity with a staggering velocity that can be shocking to the uninitiated, like the couple baking under the blazing sun who are seated in the mostly empty bleachers.

They are parents of a Randallstown defender who turn to one another and repeatedly mutter, “Holy shit!” when Washington starts hurling 50-yard spirals that routinely hit his receivers in stride.

Washington passed for 2,979 passing yards and 29 touchdowns last season. (Dylan Thiessen/The Baltimore Banner)

Heading into the fall of 2022, most MIAA football observers knew Washington, who took a fair share of snaps as a freshman while serving as the backup, was good. But it wasn’t long before he became a revelation.

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Spalding head coach Kyle Schmitt knew before most the level of production that Washington was capable of, given his intellect, leadership skills and rare arm talent that even most college quarterbacks don’t possess. That’s why he went on a couple of business trips last summer to meet with the coaching staffs at the University of Akron and Shepherd University, an NCAA Division II school, to study the nuances and intricacies of their explosive spread offenses.

“We saw some of the innovative things that they were doing with their offensive schemes and the ownership they give their quarterbacks,” Schmitt said. “Those trips were really valuable to us. They gave us some awesome stuff to bring back home and tinker with. We incorporated some of it last year, and we’re going to build on that and add more this year.”

Schmitt, a former offensive lineman at the University of Maryland, had previously featured a run-heavy scheme at Spalding. But, with Washington’s advanced ability to make every throw in the route tree, Schmitt scrapped his bruising attack for one that relied heavily on his precocious young QB’s arm and propensity for aerial pyrotechnics.

Quarterback Malik Washington looks to pass as No. 2 Archbishop Spalding got into the win column Friday night with an impressive win over Imhotep (PA).
In this game against Imhotep Charter, one of the Philadelphia area's top teams, Washington threw an 80-yard touchdown pass late in Spalding's 20-13 victory. (Photo courtesy of Archbishop Spalding Cavalier Athletics)

There were many memorable moments last season as Spalding marched toward the conference championship. There was the Broadneck game, when the Cavs were leading 16-3 in the middle of the third quarter. The Bruins were deep in Spalding territory, threatening to score until they fumbled at the 4-yard line.

On the very next play, Washington hit a streaking Max Moss, a then-senior who will suit up for James Madison this fall, for a 96-yard touchdown pass that effectively put the game out of reach as the Cavs marched to a 38-3 win.

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“That play was an RPO, a run-pass option where I either hand the ball off or pass it, depending on my read of the defense,” Washington said. “Backed up in our own end zone, I was tempted to hand the ball off and play it safe. But I liked what I saw from the defensive alignment and decided to sling it. Max ran a glance route, which is a shorter and more flat version of a typical post pattern. I got the ball in his hands, and he made the magic happen from there.”

Others remember the dominant 41-21 win over a very good Gonzaga College High on the road in Washington, D.C. And many will point to the game against Imhotep Charter, one of the top teams in the Philadelphia area, when Washington again teamed with Moss, connecting on an 80-yard touchdown pass in the game’s final moments to secure a 20-13 win.

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When Schmitt recalls a moment that he remembers most, he harks back to the Gonzaga game for another reason.

“We were up by 14 points late in the first half and threatening to score again until Malik threw an interception,” Schmitt said. “I was on the sideline going out of my mind. And he walks off the field with this big smile on his face, as cool as can be, and says, “Don’t worry, coach, we’ll get the next one. I got you.’”

“Once you throw an interception, being mad about it and beating yourself up is not going to erase what just happened,” Washington said. “I liked what I saw in terms of our execution on that drive. I told my guys that our defense was going to get a stop and that we’d punch in the next one to go up 21-0.”

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Sure enough, on the ensuing possession, that’s exactly what happened. He connected with Moss on a short slant route that hit paydirt.

Washington culminated the season by passing for 457 yards and five touchdowns in Spalding’s two playoff wins, with two of those scoring passes coming in the MIAA A Conference championship game, a 34-10 rout of Calvert Hall at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.

After a week of rest, it was off to basketball practice. On the hardwood, Washington again dazzled.

Washington transitioned quickly to basketball last season, making 70% of his shots from the field while averaging 17 points and nine rebounds. (Ty Akimoto)

“We’ve had Division I basketball coaches call and say, ‘We’d love to make him an offer, but we’re not sure if it’s worth the time and effort recruiting him since everyone assumes that his future route is playing quarterback at a Power Five school,’” said Kiana Teixeira, Washington’s mom.

The rugged guard/forward was named all-conference first team after averaging 17 points and nine rebounds while shooting 70% from the field. He also guarded every opposing team’s best player, regardless of position.

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“Some people were surprised at the numbers I was putting up, but my role on the basketball team changed,” Washington said. “We lost an exceptional talent in Cam Whitmore, who went on to have a great season at Villanova before being drafted by the Houston Rockets.

“As a freshman, I was more of a glue guy that did the dirty work: diving for loose balls, being physical in the paint, playing bulldog defense and fighting for rebounds,” Washington continued. “This year I was asked to be more of a scorer. Whatever my team needs me to do to win, I’m going to do it.”

His signature game came on the road against John Carroll in the quarterfinal round of the conference playoffs when he erupted for 24 points, 18 rebounds and five assists, along with a block and a steal.

The many postseason accolades that followed included being named The Baltimore Banner Male Athlete of the Year.

“The awards are cool, but I don’t pay attention to that stuff,” Washington said. “Don’t get me wrong. It’s an honor to be recognized for my talent and the hard work I put in, and it’s also a testament to my coaches and teammates who make all that stuff possible. But for me the best thing is winning. I could care less about the accolades.”

When the high school hoops season ended, he took another week off to give his body a rest. Then he was off to join Team Melo for the spring/summer AAU basketball season on Nike’s national Elite Youth Basketball League circuit along with his high school squad at the DMV Live events at DeMatha High School.

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With Team Melo, he cherishes spending time and balling out with some of his good friends who attend other schools, kids who have been anointed in the intense incubator of youth basketball. They include Adam Oumiddoch and Kiyan Anthony (Carmelo Anthony’s son) when they play in the ultra-competitive EYBL events in places such as Atlanta, Dallas, Phoenix and Memphis.

He’s also appreciative of the opportunity he has to be mentored by The Melo Man himself.

“Melo, he’s just a very wise man,” Washington said. “With Kiyan being my guy, I’ve been blessed to see that Melo is more interested in who I am as a person than who I am as an athlete. He’s real chill and super down to earth.

“To have access to that type of counsel, from a future Hall of Famer and one of the greatest scorers to play the game, is a special opportunity,” Washington continued. “He talks to me about life, business, stuff like that, sharing bits and pieces of his journey with me. I was a little starstruck when I first met him last summer. Now he’s just Uncle Melo.”

This summer Washington’s Team Melo Elite 16-year-old squad did not qualify to play at Peach Jam, where Nike crowns its summer AAU national champion.

And then there were the unofficial football recruiting visits to the University of Michigan and Ohio State.

Malik Washington with his father, Dana Washington, and his mother, Kiana Teixeira, after scrimmages at Archbishop Spalding last week. (Dylan Thiessen/The Baltimore Banner)

“The Michigan and Ohio State coaches invited him out and both were great visits,” Teixeira said. “We got a lot of good, positive feedback, and they invited us back to check out a game in the fall.”

As far as the recruiting process, some on the outside believe Penn State, Maryland and Virginia Tech are the front-runners. But that’s news to Teixeira, who said when she asks her son if he has a list of the top five colleges he’s considering, the response has consistently been “nope.”

“If he’s favoring one school over another right now, even I don’t know,” Teixeira said. “But knowing my kid, whatever school that is, he’s going to know when he knows and it’s going to be the best fit for him and where he truly feels comfortable.”

Washington will do a little more hoops stuff over the next few weeks when he works as a counselor at Spalding’s youth basketball camp, but as of now the focus has shifted fully toward the upcoming football season.

After a heaping plate of leftover spaghetti and a good night’s rest following the scrimmages Thursday, his Friday itinerary was packed. He was out of the house by 7:45 a.m. to meet his coaches and teammates at Spalding for a morning of weightlifting and rotating to different stations for conditioning drills and passing workouts.

When that wrapped, he worked out with Julius Chestnut, a Spalding alum who is a reserve running back with the Tennessee Titans. They were out in sauna-like conditions as Washington threw for close to an hour.

“He asked me to work out and throw the ball to him before he heads back down to Tennessee to get ready for training camp,” Washington said.

Malik Washington is a rising sophomore at Archbishop Spalding. In addition to being an excellent basketball player who will play for the Team Melo AAU squad this summer that we are doing a continuing series on, the 6-foot-6, 210-pound 15-year-old is also considered the #1 ranked quarterback in the state of Maryland.
Malik Washington, The Baltimore Banner Male Athlete of the Year, is a rising junior at Archbishop Spalding. He has football scholarship offers from Maryland, Penn State, Virginia Tech, Arkansas, Texas A&M and a host of others, with many more to follow. (Kirk McKoy/The Baltimore Banner)

By noon, it was back home for one of his favorite meals, bacon and eggs. After relaxing for a few hours and sneaking in some short naps, he was off to Bell Branch Park in Gambrills for a workout with two of the area’s other standout quarterbacks, DeMatha’s Denzel Gardner and St. Frances’ Michael Van Buren, who is committed to play at the University of Oregon next fall, selecting the Pac-12 program over Alabama, Maryland, Michigan, Oklahoma and many others.

Washington has a decision like that ahead of him, but for now it’s all about putting in the work.

Midway through the recent seven-on-seven scrimmage against Arundel High School’s secondary, Washington drops back and momentarily stands tall in the pocket. He almost seems to float as he moves, releasing the ball with a fluidity that borders on the poetic.

He sends a gorgeous, high-arcing spiral airborne as the sun begins to set. As the ball sails toward the end zone, his receiver has a step on his defender. Initially, it seems as if Washington has overthrown his target. But then the ball drops out of the sky like a sinker. It lands in his receiver’s hands to the astonishment of many, drawing gasps from even the opposing team. But the football slips through his teammate’s hands.

“He’s just special and a real joy to coach,” Schmitt said. “He’s coming off an incredible year where he kept getting better as the season progressed and we kept giving him more and more because he proved that he can handle it.

“A night like tonight in seven-on-seven, he called his own plays in a very fast-tempo offense, communicating with his teammates using hand signals, winks and other subtle gestures,” Schmitt continued. “If we can make quick adjustments on the fly with him reading the defense and calling his own plays, our offense is going to be really tough for defenses to deal with this year.”

Like any motivated elite athlete, Washington is fully aware that there is plenty of room for growth. He wants to improve on his deep ball accuracy, being more efficient with his completion percentages and managing the two-minute offense.

He also wants to rely less on his prodigious arm strength, while using his legs more to throw with consistently good technique and to be more of a weapon on third down, where he can take off out of the pocket and run for the necessary yards to keep the chains moving.

As far as the records, honors and the recruiting process, Washington lives in the now.

“He always tells me, when people talk about him throwing for close to 3,000 yards as a sophomore or the Power Five schools that have already offered him scholarships, ‘That stuff happened last year,’” said Dana Washington, Malik’s father. “He turns the page quickly. He’s not looking behind him. He’s concentrating on what lies ahead. Right now he’s just enjoying the moment, living in the now.”

“I don’t dwell on that stuff and get a big head because I know that anything you have in life can ultimately be taken away,” Malik Washington said. “I haven’t accomplished anything yet. I just finished my sophomore year in high school. There’s a lot more that I want to do, and there’s a lot more that I’m capable of.”

That’s a scary proposition for any opposing defensive coordinator in the years ahead.

Alejandro Danois was a sports writer for The Banner. He specializes in long-form storytelling, looking at society through the prism of sports and its larger connections with the greater cultural milieu. The author of The Boys of Dunbar, A Story of Love, Hope and Basketball, he is also a film producer and cultural critic.

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