Washington Huskies

He’s only months removed from Sehome High, but his stardom is no surprise to UW

Washington defensive back Taylor Rapp, right, is followed by teammate Brandon Lewis after Rapp intercepted a past against USC in the second half Saturday, Nov. 12, 2016, in Seattle. USC handed the Huskies their only loss of the regular season, 26-13.
Washington defensive back Taylor Rapp, right, is followed by teammate Brandon Lewis after Rapp intercepted a past against USC in the second half Saturday, Nov. 12, 2016, in Seattle. USC handed the Huskies their only loss of the regular season, 26-13. The Associated Press

Taylor Rapp joined an illustrious University of Washington fraternity that includes two of the program’s most decorated performers.

Rapp, a freshman strong safety from Sehome High School, was selected the Pacific-12 Conference Freshman Defensive Player of the Year by the conference coaches. He’s the first UW defensive player to win the award, and joins Reggie Williams (2007) and Jake Locker (2007) as the only Huskies to earn Freshman of the Year recognition.

Rapp’s rapid ascension to stardom hasn’t surprised the Huskies.

He enrolled early at Washington in January and participated in spring drills. Coach Chris Petersen took notice of Rapp immediately and was impressed by his toughness.

“He broke his hand the second day, and I’m thinking, well, there goes his spring football,” Petersen said. “Well, next day, I didn’t even know, he’s out there with a big club on, not even thinking twice about it. That’s him. He’s been great.”

He can be one of those guys that you talk about for a long, long time.

UW co-defensive coordinator Jimmy Lake

Rapp has played in every game and started eight times for Washington, which routinely uses five defensive backs. He is fifth on the team in tackles with 42.

Co-defensive coordinator Jimmy Lake has raved about Rapp’s sure-tackling abilities and said the newcomer took his game to another level when he collected two interceptions during a 26-13 loss to USC three weeks ago. Rapp’s two picks are tied for a team lead.

“To separate yourself as a DB, you need to make the big momentum-swinging plays, and he did that,” Lake said. “He’s got that in him. We always talk about takeaways and turnovers. Getting the ball back.

“He can be one of those guys that you talk about for a long, long time.”

Almost remarkably, Rapp beat out more seasoned and veteran teammates to establish a significant role in a veteran secondary that includes all-Pac-12 first-team picks Sidney Jones and Budda Baker as well as Kevin King, an honorable mention selection.

“He’s a guy that’s going to be like Budda coming down the line,” King said. “Mentally, he’s there. Just seeing him on the field and playing with him, I wouldn’t know how old he was. ... Now he’s put that freshman thing behind him and he’s just another player back there. He’s a part of our unit. He’s a part of Death Row. He’s fully engulfed in it.”

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