Washington defensive back Trent McDuffie, one of the country’s top cornerbacks, told Yahoo Sports that he’s leaving school early to enter the 2022 NFL draft.
McDuffie, a true junior, said the decision came after discussions with his family, and former and current coaches at Washington.
“We decided it was the best time for me to take this next step on this new adventure,” McDuffie said in a phone interview.
McDuffie projects in the back-half of the first round of the draft, and he’ll enter the NFL with reputation as a strong cover corner, sure tackler and willing special-teamer. He had six pass break-ups this season as the linchpin of Washington’s elite pass defense, earning first-team All-Pac-12 honors.
Despite a 4-8 record, Washington led the nation with the fewest passing yards allowed in 2021 and finished third nationally in pass efficiency defense. McDuffie finished with four tackles for loss and 35 total tackles.
“I am very hard-nosed, physical and disciplined, and I’d like to call myself a technician,” McDuffie said when asked what he’d bring to an NFL team. “I’m a film junkie and am dedicated to the details of my position and to the details of football.”
McDuffie said he models his technique from studying Stephon Gilmore, admires the “attitude and confidence” of Jalen Ramsey and has long attempted to emulate the sure-tackling of fellow Husky Budda Baker.
McDuffie’s explosiveness is a defining trait, as he projects strong testing numbers.
The 41.5-inch vertical leap he registered at Washington would have put him among the top defensive backs in the 2021 draft. His 129.5-inch broad jump was the best on the Washington team and will also register as a high-end number for a defensive back.
Trent McDuffie with a vertical leap of 41.5” at UW’s team combine. https://t.co/s0lozRJz4Y
— Christian Caple (@ChristianCaple) June 3, 2021
McDuffie is 5-foot-11 and 195 pounds, and he’s ready for people to underestimate him because of his height.
“I honestly think that’s my little secret sauce,” he said of the skepticism. “Knowing that there are people who think height matters. That’s kind of what keeps me going and allows me to play so fast and physical. I don’t have height, but I have a lot of speed and physical power.”
McDuffie says he’s willing to play any position that an NFL team sees fit, and he expressed his giddiness to contribute on special teams.
“I want to be anything and everything,” he said. “Whatever the NFL wants, I’ll be – nickel, corner, safety or dime backer. I’m someone who wants to contribute to the team as best I can.
“I love special teams. It’s the most fun on the field. That’s something we got from [Washington], the mentality that every DB should be on teams. We take pride in knowing that there’s more defensive backs on special teams than any other position on the team.”
Washington has developed a reputation as one of the top programs for producing defensive backs, as eight members of the Huskies secondary have been picked since 2017, including Baker, Kevin King and Taylor Rapp. That lineage, fostered by former head coach Jimmy Lake and former defensive backs coach Will Harris, has set a standard that McDuffie has been inspired to live up to.
“I think it’s definitely something I take pride in,” he said. “From the past, guys like Budda Baker and Sidney Jones, they really set a standard and a way for the country to look at Washington defensive backs. This year, I took that on myself to make sure I took that standard and raised it a little bit more.”
He’ll also carry on an impressive legacy from his high school, St. John Bosco in Southern California. Recent graduates of coach Jason Negro’s program include Wyatt Davis, D.J. Uiagalelei and Josh Rosen. “I feel like at Bosco, there’s a standard for building yourself to be a Division I football athlete,” McDuffie said.