It’s the week of the NFL Draft, and it promises to be another one with numerous Huskies selected in the early rounds. Taylor Rapp will be one of the first Dawgs of the board, and will join a growing list of Husky DBs picked early. On the heels of a great UW career, Rapp sat down to hash out some of the high points of his career and the draft process.
Andrew Berg: You’re working with the Hyundai Rolling with Rookies program. Can you tell me a little more about that?
Taylor Rapp: Hyundai reached out to me a few weeks back. They selected me and 4 other guys in Rolling with the Rookies for season 3. They offered to come to my hometown and shared my story. I shared that a couple weeks back. I feel blessed and grateful to be in that group. We had a great group with Josh Allen, the linebacker from Kentucky, Clelin Ferrell from Clemson, David Montgomery from Iowa State, and Quinnen Williams from Alabama, so I was grateful to be included with that group.
Andrew: You come from a unique background for a high-end NFL prospect. Sehome HS in Bellingham has never produced an NFL player, Chinese-Americans are not well represented in the NFL, and you were not rated as a top recruit out of high school. What has it meant to you to be able to blaze your own trail this way?
Taylor: It’s huge. Growing up, I never had anyone to look up to in major sports that looked like me or had an Asian background. To be able to be in the position I’m in and to play major college football and the NFLis a dream come true. My hope to inspire young kids and give them someone to look up to.
Andrew: I have to ask about the Husky combine. You ran a 4.7 40, which is not a great number for a DB and slower than what you’ve run before. What is the story behind that and what have you done to try to overcome it in the draft process?
Taylor: I ran what I ran at pro day. I was more confused than anything. It started out with my hip flexor injury and I missed Rose Bowl because of it. It took longer than I thought it would to heal. I was training out of Phoenix and the trainers wanted to be conservative, so I didn’t start training until three weeks before the combine. We wanted to make sure I fully recovered. I didn’t want to go back too soon and re-aggravate it.
I started training 3 weeks before the combine. I was tracking 4.5-4.6 with laser time and never touched 4.7. Even after combine, I was in the 4.5-4.6 range. For anyone who is concerned about my time, I would say to turn on the tape and the tape will speak for itself. I’m not an underwear Olympics specialist. You don’t run 40 yards in a straight line on a football field very often. I’m not someone who makes excuses, but if a team passes on me because of my 40, I promise I’ll make them regret that.
Andrew: Think back to the most memorable single play in your Husky career. Walk me through it as much as you can remember, from the play call to what happened after the snap.
Taylor: I would date it back to my freshman year when we played Colorado in the Pac-12 Championship. It wasn’t the pick 6, but the second pick. Earlier in the game, we saw the exact same offensive set and I got beat in man coverage. We came back to the same set and same play and I recognized the splits. I knew the route that my receiver was running and I was able to undercut it. It sealed the game for us and it was very special for me.
Andrew: Husky fans have heard a lot about the greatness of Jimmy Lake, both as a coach and as a recruiter. What are the things that he does that make him so successful in those roles?
Taylor: It starts out with Coach Lake and Coach Pete recruiting the right guys to the program, not solely out of talent but “our kinda guys.” They are the types of guys who will put the work into the program. Coach Lake and Coach Pete are the best developers of football players and young men in the country. Me, coming in, I didn’t have the most talent and wasn’t the most heavily recruited, but I was able to come in with the right mindset and do whatever it took to have success on the field. From each meeting to each practice to each game, the track record shows how many DBs he has turned out. I’m excited to watch them this year because I don’t think there’s going to be any drop-off at all.
Andrew: Funniest Teammate
Taylor: Chico McClatcher
Andrew: Teammate you would call if your car ran out of gas in the middle of the night
Taylor: Henry Roberts
Andrew: Best food in the U District
Taylor: That’s tough, I’ll say Joey’s Kitchen in U-Vill.
Andrew: Bigger rival- Oregon or WSU
Taylor: [Laughs] I would say Oregon because I’ve never lost to WSU. A rival is someone who can compete with you.
Andrew: First thing you’ll buy when you sign your NFL contract
Taylor I’m not buying anything big. I’ll be keeping it like I’m a college student. I majored in finance, so probably a stock or a bond.
Andrew: In one word or phrase, how do you want Husky fans to remember your UW career
In my opinion, “dedicated” might be an understatement for what Taylor brought to UW. Whichever team drafts him is going to be glad to have that same dedication in its locker room and on the field.