Sehome High School football coach Bob Norvell gave it his best shot at trying to sway star safety Taylor Rapp toward Pullman.
“I would mention Washington State [University] every now and again to him,” said a chuckling Norvell, who was an offensive lineman for the Cougars in the late 1980s, “but I think Taylor knew for a while where he was going to end up. It’s his dream school.”
Rapp, ranked as the No. 6 player overall in Washington and the country’s No.51-ranked safety by Rivals.com, verbally committed to the University of Washington last March, but he made things official in October when he signed his financial aid agreement.
The 6-foot-1, 205-pound Rapp selected the Huskies over Stanford, Oregon, Notre Dame, Nebraska, USC, UCLA and Arizona State.
“Being close to home was a big part of it. I wanted my family and friends to be able to come see me play, and if I ever just want to come home, it’s a short drive. So, that was really appealing to me,” Rapp said. “I also think coach [Chris] Petersen and his staff are building something special here. It’s something I couldn’t miss out on.”
Rapp has been enrolled since January at UW, having graduated early by loading up on classes at Whatcom Community College during his shortened senior year of high school. The reason for his early enrollment is he can now participate in spring practices — which is becoming more of a trend with incoming freshmen across the country.
“It gives you a huge advantage,” Rapp said about arriving on campus early. “This gives you time to get a little more familiar with the program. You’re not just thrown right into things like you would if you enrolled in the fall. This allows me the opportunity to get adjusted to college both in terms of football and academics.”
With the early enrollment, however, came sacrifices for Rapp, who graduated with a 3.95-grade point average.
Outside his time on the football field during practices, Rapp’s senior year was spent not with his classmates at Sehome, but on the Whatcom Community College campus.
“I gave up a lot. There were times I thought about just enjoying a normal senior year,” Rapp said, “but I think, in the long run, I’m going to benefit from this decision.”
Rapp arrived at Sehome as a freshman during Norvell’s first-year with the Mariners and immediately made an impact on the program, forcing Norvell to overlook one of his long-standing coaching philosophies.
“I always believe you have to let players develop. I think they need to be given a chance to mature and work their way up through the program. That’s why when Taylor was a freshman, he initially played JV for us,” Norvell said, “but we couldn’t keep him there. He’s such a dynamic player and he actually would hurt people playing JV. We had to move him up to varsity.”
A four-year starter at Sehome, Rapp quickly earned a reputation as one of the state’s heaviest hitters.
“He plays hard, does everything you ask and hits like a truck,” Norvell said. “He was just a pleasure to coach for four years. I think [UW] is getting a special player and they have some spots open. Taylor could have a chance to see the field early.”
Rapp earned USA Today all levels and Associated Press 2A all-state honors as a senior and received an invite to play in the US Army All-American Bowl following his senior season.
He received his first offer as a sophomore from Montana State.
“I think people initially saw his 40 time and it wasn’t blistering,” Norvell said, “but then they see his shuttle run. He posted one of the fastest times in the nation. His first three steps are as about as fast as you’ll find. He has great instincts.”
Once UW offered, it appeared the word on Rapp was out as he suddenly received interest throughout the Pac-12 Conference as well as traditional national powers Notre Dame and Nebraska.
As it turned out, none of the other universities could pull Rapp away from the purple and gold.
“I’m still adjusting [to college]. I get homesick, but I am excited for what’s ahead. Academic-wise I get to go to one of the best universities in the country,” Rapp said. “I have a lot of great memories playing under Friday night lights at Sehome. Now I am looking forward to making memories on Saturdays.”