Three members of the Washington Football defense were named to All-America teams for the 2018 season.
Congratulations to Ben Burr-Kirven, Taylor Rapp and Byron Murphy, who all were honored on Monday as All-Americans. Burr-Kirven has been named to both ESPN and the Associated Press‘ first teams, while Murphy and Rapp were honored by both with a second-team selection. All three of these players had standout seasons and were more than deserving of the selection.
Burr-Kirven was a tackling machine for the Huskies this season, and ended up as the country’s leading tackler. This All-American selection is just the latest, and arguably the greatest, in a slew of awards that include Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year. On the year, Burr-Kirven was able to record 165 tackles, which is currently good for tenth all-time on the school leaderboard, passing Mason Foster. Burr-Kirven was a stat sheet stuffer this year, also recording a sack, two interceptions, six passes defensed, three fumble recoveries and four forced fumbles.
Something to keep an eye on in the Rose Bowl, we know Burr-Kirven is able to go off for 20 tackle games, fifth place on the single-season tackles leaderboard isn’t out of reach, which is currently David Rill‘s 188 in 1987.
Rapp has been an incredible player since the moment he stepped on campus. For those of you who don’t remember, he was so good as a freshman he forced Budda Baker to drop down and play nickel back. The 2016 Pac-12 Freshman Defensive Player of the Year and Freshman All-American will probably be leaving for the NFL Draft, but not before making a big-time mark in his last season. He finished third on the team in tackles, but more impressively, second in sacks.
However, Rapp’s biggest impact can’t be measured in the stat sheet. His incredible range and ball skills discouraged opponents from throwing the ball down the field. This gave him the ability to be a big help against the run this season, and he showed off his incredible strength and the ability to hit hard and finish tackles. He should get picked on Day One of the 2019 NFL Draft.
Murphy should also get picked on Day One of the 2019 NFL Draft, and Husky fans shouldn’t be disappointed with their only full season of Murphy. Murphy was the team leader with four interceptions, and the team hero in the Pac-12 Championship game against Utah, with two picks, including a game-winning pick-six. He also finished with 13 passes defended and showed off his incredible tackling skills, finishing fourth on the team with 56 tackles and one forced fumble. Outside of the Pac-12 championship, his greatest accomplishment this season is arguably helping hold Arizona State’s N’Keal Harry, who will probably be the first receiver picked in the 2019 NFL Draft, to five catches for 20 yards, his lowest total of the season and second lowest of his career.