Pacific 12 Conference

It’s been 30 years since Bellingham had an NFL player, but that should change in April

UW’s Taylor Rapp: “I definitely had to step up as a leader.”

UW safety Taylor Rapp discusses taking a stronger role within the secondary’s leadership in this Feb. 6, 2018 file video. Rapp announced Wednesday, Jan. 2, that he will forgo his senior season of eligibility to enter the 2019 NFL Draft.
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UW safety Taylor Rapp discusses taking a stronger role within the secondary’s leadership in this Feb. 6, 2018 file video. Rapp announced Wednesday, Jan. 2, that he will forgo his senior season of eligibility to enter the 2019 NFL Draft.

Whatcom County is only months away from once again having a homegrown player to root for in the National Football League.

Sehome High graduate Taylor Rapp, who has starred at safety for the University of Washington the past three seasons, announced in a tweet Wednesday morning that he will forgo his senior season with the Huskies and declare for the NFL Draft.

“Ever since I was a child, I dreamed of playing in the National Football League,” Rapp wrote in the tweet. “Now, with this incredible opportunity in front of me, I feel it is in my best interest to seize it. With that being said, I am officially forgoing my senior year of eligibility.”

The 6-foot, 212-pound Rapp, who turned 21 last month, did not play in UW’s 28-23 loss to Ohio State in the 105th Rose Bowl Tuesday, after he told The Seattle Times, that he suffered a hip flexor injury in early December during a Pac-12 Championship Game victory over Utah. The Times reported he missed most of the team’s December practices.

Rapp is projected to go in the second round of the April NFL Draft by the NFL College Advisory Committee, according to the Seattle Times. Bleacherreport.com also projected him as a second-round prospect, praising his high character, his ability to play both single-high and two-high coverages while also providing run support and his ball-hawking skills.

Rapp would become the first Sehome High graduate to find his way onto an NFL roster, according to pro-football-reference.com and the first from a Bellingham high school to make the top level in the sport since Bellingham High and UW alum Steve Alvord was an eighth-round selection by the Cardinals in 1987 and had a two-year career at defensive tackle in St. Louis and Phoenix.

More recently, former Ferndale High quarterback Jake Locker, who also played for the Huskies, was a first-round draft pick of the Tennessee Titans and had a four-year playing career before retiring after the 2014 season.

Rapp helped Sehome reach the state football playoffs in 2014 — the Mariners’ first trip to state since 2000 — before graduating in 2016.

“As I embark on this journey, I do so with great humility and appreciation, as I know that his opportunity would not be possible without the sacrifice and support of others,” Rapp wrote in his tweet. “Without the love, guidance, support and sacrifice from my parents and my brother, none of this would be possible and I would not be in the position I am today.”

Since 2016, Rapp has been a standout in the Huskies’ secondary earning first-team All-America honors this year from TheAthletic.com, Pro Football Focus, ESPN and USA Today, according to his UW bio on gohuskies.com. He also was a first-team All-Pac-12 selection his sophomore and junior seasons and in 2016 was selected freshman All-America and Pac-12 Freshman Defensive Player of the Year.

taylor rapp1
University of Washington defensive back Taylor Rapp cuts upfield after intercepting a Colorado pass during the second half of the 2016 Pac-12 Conference championship game. Rapp, a graduate of Sehome High School, announced he will leave UW and enter the NFL Draft. Marcio Jose Sanchez AP

Before missing the Rose Bowl, he started every game for the Huskies this season, recording 53 tackles, one forced fumble, four interceptions and two pass breakups. In 40 career games at UW, he recorded 171 tackles, seven sacks, seven interceptions, two forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries and scored a touchdown.

“Representing the University of Washington and doing my best to uphold the great Husky tradition has been a tremendous honor,” Rapp wrote in the tweet. “I look forward to finishing my remaining two quarters, receiving my finance degree from one of the top business schools in the country and joining one of the greatest alumni bases in the world. I appreciate everyone for their support, and I am excited to begin this next chapter in my life. Go Dawgs!”

Whatcom County alums in the NFL

Former NFL players who attended Whatcom County high schools, according to pro-football-reference.com, along with their positions, years played and teams:

Tom Ackerman (Nooksack Valley): OL, 1996-2003, Saints, Titans

Steve Alvord (Bellingham): DT, 1987-88, Cardinals

Brant Bengen (Bellingham): WR, 1987, Seahawks

Tom Erlandson (Bellingham): LB, 1962-68, Broncos, Dolphins, Chargers

Dick Hanley (Bellingham): WB, 1924, Cardinals

Mel Hein (Fairhaven): OL/LB, 1931-45, Giants

Michael Koenen (Ferndale): P, 2005-14, Falcons, Buccaneers

Jake Locker (Ferndale): QB, 2011-14, Titans

Doug Pederson (Ferndale): QB, 1993-2004, Dolphins, Packers, Eagles, Browns

Don Steinbrunner (Mount Baker): OL, 1953, Browns

David Rasbach joined The Bellingham Herald in 2005 and now covers breaking news. He has been an editor and writer in several western states since 1994.

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