Think of Keith Taylor.
In 2017, Taylor — then a 6-foot-2, 180-pound defensive back — signed with Washington from a relatively modest offer list that also included Oregon, Arizona State, Cal, Utah and San Jose State. That’s despite the fact that the Servite High School standout was regarded as a four-star prospect by 247Sports and possessed the frame and athletic attributes to play both cornerback and safety.
More than three years later, Taylor has played in 39 of UW’s 40 total games and started the last 13 at corner.
But could the next Keith Taylor be coming soon?
That appears to be a distinct possibility, after three-star defensive back Vince Nunley announced his verbal commitment to Washington on Thursday.
“I think he probably ultimately ends up as a safety when it’s all said and done,” 247Sports national recruiting editor Brandon Huffman said of Nunley this week. “I think his frame will put him as a high safety. But if he’s needed to play corner, he can do that.
“He reminds me a little bit of Keith Taylor in high school — just a really solid player that could play either spot, tended to be overlooked by schools for whatever reason. I thought (Nunley) would have had more Power Five offers than he did. But I think there’s a lot of tools there. And I think because he’s got the ability to play either corner or safety — he’s a big-bodied corner or he’s a pretty athletic safety — that’s what makes him attractive.”
The skill set for Nunley — a 6-1, 180-pound DB — was apparently too attractive to turn down for UW, despite the fact that he’s ranked as a mid-three-star prospect by 247Sports. Besides Washington, the Freedom High School senior’s other offers came from Utah, Kansas, Colorado State, Fresno State, San Diego State, San Jose State, Utah State and Sacramento State.
According to Huffman, Nunley “absolutely would have” benefited from a spring evaluation period, which was essentially squashed by COVID-19.
“I just think he got lost in the shuffle with the spring (evaluation period not happening),” Huffman said. “He probably ends up with more offers if there is a spring.”
Perhaps, then, Nunley can be considered a steal in Washington’s 2021 class — which has 15 members and is ranked 28th nationally and fifth in the Pac-12 by 247Sports. He joins three-star Californian corners Zakhari Spears and Dyson McCutcheon in the Huskies’ future secondary.
Still, that secondary may not be as star-studded as some fans have hoped. In the 2021 class, the first-time UW DB coaching tandem of Will Harris and Terrence Brown have missed on a slew of four-star prospects — including Denzel Burke (Ohio State), Jaylin Davies (Oregon), Philip Riley (Notre Dame), Steven Ortiz (Minnesota) and JD Coffey (Texas).
But that doesn’t mean a guy like Nunley — or Spears, or McCutcheon — won’t ultimately outperform them all.