Adv04

Updated: September 3, 2003, 3:10 PM ET

ATLANTA -- When John David Washington emerged from the locker room on Morehouse's preseason media day wearing No. 13 instead of his normal No. 30, it appeared he might be going to extremes to avoid attention.

Washington, the son of Oscar-winning actor Denzel Washington, already had told school officials he didn't want to participate in interviews. J.D. Washington is a preseason all-Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference running back who ran for 101 yards in the Maroon Tigers' opening game, but he presumes interviews will focus more on his famous father than on football.

"Since I've known him, he has shunned away from media attention," Morehouse coach Willard Scissum said. "He doesn't want to get attention that the other guys on the team are not getting just because of his father. John David is a very humble young man from everything I've seen.

"I'm sure John David is very proud to be the son of Denzel Washington, but he's also a Morehouse man as well."

But he wasn't trying to hide by wearing the wrong jersey. There was no No. 30 in the school's initial shipment of new jerseys.

If wearing a different number would allow Washington to blend in with his teammates, the sophomore would happily make the switch. Washington, who agreed to be interviewed only with fellow running back Aaron Epps, offered a simple explanation for his reluctance for individual attention.

"On the field there's 11 guys, not just one," he said.

Washington probably had good reason to worry that other players might see him as a prima donna.

"We all thought that coming in, but he's not that kind of person," senior offensive lineman Daniel Cramer said. "You wouldn't know who his father was unless you saw his last name or unless he told you. He's a real down-to-earth guy."

Denzel Washington's presence in the stands at Morehouse games caused a stir with fans, but Cramer says the players quickly adjusted to having a movie star cheering for them.

After attending a practice for the first time last year, the actor introduced himself to the players as a way of breaking the ice.

"After that, it wasn't going to be a distraction," Cramer said. "I wanted to meet him. I'm glad he got that out of the way, though, because none of us treat J.D. as Denzel Washington's son. He's just J.D. now."

Washington is only slightly more willing to discuss his all-star status than his father.

"It means nothing right now," Washington said. "We've got to do it again. We've got to get a ring. I was all-conference last year but we didn't go to the playoffs."

Morehouse finished 6-5 last year and was picked fourth in the SIAC in the coaches preseason poll. The Maroon Tigers lost 23-10 to Fort Valley State in its season opener.

Before suffering a broken right collarbone that ended his 2002 season in October, Washington rushed for 543 yards and four touchdowns while starting six games and playing in two more as a backup. He earned second-team all-SIAC honors and was the only sophomore on this year's preseason all-SIAC first team offense.

Washington (5-foot-10, 180 pounds) rushed for 1,980 yards and 26 touchdowns as a senior at Campbell Hall High School in North Hollywood, Calif., but he wasn't a heavily recruited prospect.

"Probably if he came out of another high school system with better competition, most of the colleges in the U.S. would have recruited him," Scissum said. "He is an extraordinary talent."

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index