Birthplace: LaPorte, TX
As a native of Baytown, Texas, Gene Washington was amazed at the difference between his hometown and East Lansing, Michigan. “What struck me was how friendly the coaches were and how I was received coming out of a totally segregated situation, with no connection to white people. I had no problems whatsoever,” Washington says as he recounts his experience at Michigan State. Coach Duffy Daugherty made an agreement with Washington for him to skip spring football and be a hurdler on the Spartan track team. A starter as a sophomore, Washington would go on to set Michigan State season records for wide receivers in receptions and yards. Washington was a two-time first-team All-America. Gene led MSU in receiving three straight years as the Spartans posted a 23-6-1 record, with the team going 19-1-1 his final two years. Washington also finished as Michigan State’s career leader in receptions, receiving yards, and yards per reception with 18.2. In 1966 he averaged an incredible 25 yards per catch. Washington helped to guide Michigan State to two shared national titles and two Big Ten championships. Washington was chosen eighth overall in the 1967 NFL Draft by the Minnesota Vikings. He played seven seasons with Minnesota and the Denver Broncos, corralling 182 passes and 26 touchdowns. He was a two-time Pro Bowler and was named a first-team All-Pro in 1969. After his playing career was complete, Gene worked many years as a workforce diversity manager for 3M Corporation.
Michigan State University