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Washington cornerback Trent McDuffie is the type of versatile defender NFL teams will covet in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft

“Oh, just go run. You'll love it.”

Washington cornerback Trent McDuffie can trace his college football success and budding NFL career on these words from his mother, a burner in her own right during her college years running track. 

“I kind of grew up in a track background,” McDuffie recently told PFF. “I think they threw me into some random meets when I was 10. She said, ‘Oh, just go run. You'll love it.’ So a big part of my high school experience was running track. Football and track were like the only two things I did.”

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These days the former sprinting star has put away his track cleats for football cleats full time, but it’s easy to see his multi-sport, athletic background in his game on the field. In three seasons at Washington, the Huskies’ shutdown corner never recorded a season grade below 80.0, including his first year as a starter as a true freshman. His 88.7 coverage grade this past year was best in the Pac-12, and his completion percentage when targeted (44.4%) was best in the conference among all cornerbacks with at least 100 coverage snaps.

Trent McDuffie | 2021
Metric Figure Pac-12 CB Rank (min. 100 snaps)
Coverage Snaps 287 25th
PFF Coverage Grade 89.5 1st
Completion % 44.40% 1st
Forced Incompletion % 16.70% 4th
Passer Rating Allowed 52 2nd
Yards Allowed Per Coverage Snap 0.39 1st

When scouts start to dig on the versatile 5-foot-11, 190-pound corner — who has an average draft position of 16.2 in PFF’s Mock Draft Simulator — they’ll want to know where he came from and how he was able to start and succeed as a true freshman at arguably the toughest position to play behind quarterback. In doing so, they’ll find those track stories.

“I ran the 100 and the 200,” McDuffie said. “I also long-jumped, which I always loved because I think it's so fun to go out there and just launch your body as far as you can.”

During his junior year, McDuffie posted a 23-foot, 9-inch long jump but hurt himself and decided to move on from the event. Focusing on the 100, his fastest official time was 10.80, though he also registered a 10.60 that doesn't officially count because it was “wind-aided.”

It's certainly not worth holding his best time against him due to a blustery day. Official or not, anything close to 10.60 in a 100-meter dash demonstrates the kind of long speed scouts are looking for in an NFL corner. For reference, Bradley Roby, a former first-round corner, had a similar size profile to McDuffie and won a state title in the 100-meter with a time of 10.72. As for shortening the distance to the more popular 40-yard dash, the first-round hopeful said the last time he ran a 40 was at The Opening as a recruit, where he was clocked at 4.47.

Nov 28, 2020; Seattle, Washington, USA; Washington Huskies defensive back Trent McDuffie (22) tackles Utah Utes quarterback Jake Bentley (8) for a fourth down stop at Alaska Airlines Field at Husky Stadium. Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Still, being a good athlete is only part of the formula for a high-end cornerback. McDuffie has been a staple in Washington's starting lineup for all three years of his college career thanks in part to his mental preparation. A high school coach taught him that the mental game is just as important as his physical abilities.

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