Between the returning seniors and rising sophomores, Washington football’s defensive backs can very well be considered the nation’s best in 2020
Washington football has developed quite a reputation for getting defensive backs drafted highly over the last few seasons, and the current group might be the best of the bunch. Between the two returning seniors, Elijah Molden and Keith Taylor, and the three rising sophomores who all earned starting spots in 2019, Cam Williams, Asa Turner, and Trent McDuffie, the Huskies aren’t losing a ton of defensive snaps outside of Myles Bryant.
Now, while loss of Bryant will hurt, Molden is poised to step up in his place, as the nickelback has got used to calling out plays and defensive audibles during his junior season, and seems to enjoy the role. His elite athleticism and footwork might remind some NFL scouts of Jaire Alexander, and he should be in the conversation as a first-round draft pick by the end of the 2020 season. Molden also finished 2019 as the team leader in tackles and passes defensed.
Taylor is already a nightmare to see lining up across from any receiver with his 6’3 frame and long arms that remind any Husky fan of Kevin King, and with the Freshman All-American McDuffie locking down the other boundary, opposing quarterbacks are going to find little room for error.
The safeties won’t make things any easier, as both Turner and Williams progressed very nicely over the course of their freshman year, and look primed to take a big jump forward in their second year on campus. With the football IQ of Williams, another Freshman All-American, that allowed him to start in the first week of his freshman season, and the speed, range, and athleticism both he and Turner can provide over the top, Washington will continue its tradition of bein one of the nation’s stingiest defenses.
The craziest thing about this Husky secondary isn’t even how talented it is at the top, it’s how deep it runs. Behind the aforementioned guys at corner are Dominique Hampton and Kyler Gordon, two players with an incredibly high ceiling who simply haven’t been able to see the field because of all the talent around them. Gordon’s incredible athleticism will make him unstoppable as a nickelback, while Hampton’s elite size and strength on the outside projects him as a great press-man boundary corner who can swallow up big, physical receivers.
Then at safety, Julius Irvin is one of the most exciting players on the roster. He has the versatility to play both cornerback and safety, and while he hasn’t seen the field much yet due to battling a shoulder injury for most of his redshirt freshman year, don’t be surprised if he steals a starting safety spot in the summer or at some point during the 2020 campaign.
The Husky defense is going to be exciting to watch in all aspects, returning eight starters from the 2019 team, and the secondary is going to be the best part. They’re going to allow the pass rushers to thrive by giving them more time to hit home.
In 2019, the secondary allowed their lowest completion percentage (63.3) since 2016, and with everyone outside of Bryant returning, there’s no reason to expect that they can’t improve on that number.