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Desmond Trufant keeping it all in the family
INDIANAPOLIS – When Ruston Webster saw a picture of Desmond Trufant as he was preparing for the NFL Scouting Combine, it prompted not just a double but a triple take.
"We were in a meeting and his picture flashed up," said Webster, general manager of the Tennessee Titans. "I couldn't believe it. I said, 'Looks just like him.' "
Him? Marcus Trufant, the longtime cornerback for the Seahawks and older brother of Desmond, a cornerback from the University of Washington who is among the best prospects at the position in this year's draft class.
Webster would know. Before joining the Titans he was the Seahawks' vice president of player personnel from 2006-09, and Marcus Trufant was a Pro Bowl cornerback in 2007.
Desmond can relate to the resemblance reaction.
"I get the 'Hey, Marcus' a couple of times," he said through a smile on Sunday during his stint in the media center at Lucas Oil Stadium. "But it's all good. He's a great player. He's done some great things in the league. So it's not a bad thing."
Desmond, the youngest of Lloyd and Constance Trufant's three sons, also sounds like Marcus. That was apparent at the UW Pro Day workout last March. Hearing his voice, a sideline spectator turned around expecting to see Marcus, only to be told it was indeed Desmond.
"So I'm just going to continue it on."
But the question that needs to be answered leading up the NFL Draft in April is whether Desmond can play like Marcus, and middle brother Isaiah, who plays for the New York Jets. All Tacoma born and raised. Each plays the same position. Each went to a different in-state university – Washington State for Marcus, Eastern Washington for Isaiah and Washington for Desmond.
"What an opportunity for their family," said Gus Bradley, the Seahawks' defensive coordinator the past four years who was hired last month to be the head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars. "They could have three guys playing the same position in the NFL. It's unbelievable."
Speaking of unbelievable, there's this story from July of 2003. It was the day Marcus signed his rookie contract after being the Seahawks' first-round draft choice. His mother and a then pre-teen Desmond accompanied him to the team's headquarters in Kirkland.
Introducing his kid brother, Marcus smiled and offered, "He's going to the best of the three."
Which would make Desmond pretty darn good, considering that Marcus has been to a Pro Bowl, ranks fifth in franchise history with 21 interceptions and has started 125 games in his 10 seasons with the Seahawks; and the 5-foot-8 Isaiah, who paid his dues and then some for five seasons by playing for four teams in the Arena League before catching on with the Jets in 2011.
"Isaiah, he definitely took the long road," Desmond said. "He's a very resilient person. It just shows that you never give up on your dream. People might say that you can't do this or you can't do that; or you're too short, you're not big enough. But he just kept working.
"I'm taking that to my game. I'm very resilient."
And the 5-11, 190-pound Desmond figures he got the best attributes of each brother – the height of Marcus (5-11, 197) and the quickness of Isaiah.
Mike Mayock, analyst for the NFL Network, rates Trufant as the fourth-best corner in this draft class – with a chance to move up depending on how fast he runs on Tuesday when the defensive backs workout.
"The corner thing is going to depend on who runs fast," Mayock said. "I need to see if (Florida State's Xavier) Rhodes, (Mississippi State's Johnthan) Banks, Trufant, any of those guys run well."
NFLDraftScout.com has Trufant as its No. 2 corner behind Alabama's Dee Milliner, offering, "Trufant quietly was very effective at Washington, though he languished at time behind a weak pass rush. Athletic and possesses quality ball-skills, he'll prove to be an upper echelon corner early in his career and one capable of sliding inside or out."
Trufant definitely helped himself with his efforts at the Senior Bowl last month.
"He's just a quick, athletic, tough, aware player," Webster said. "He comes, obviously, from a good bloodline. He did well at the Senior Bowl, so his stock keeps rising."
Pat Kirwan, an analyst for CBSSports.com concurs: "Desmond Trufant was smart to go to the Senior Bowl and let the NFL people watch him work for a week. Coaches have a comfort level with him already, and in the Senior Bowl game he answered some questions about his pure speed when he caught a kick returner from behind in the open field."
The Trufant brothers used Desmond's Senior Bowl invitation as a brother-to-brother-to-brother experience, as Marcus and Isaiah also made the trip.
"It was big. Just to have something close to home that you can grasp onto was very big," Trufant said. "We haven't been together in a while, so that was cool just to spend some time and just talk. I love my brothers. I love my family. And I'm just going to keep the legacy going."
The Huskies opened against Eastern Washington last season, so wide receiver Brandon Kaufman had ample time to study the youngest Trufant.
"Just his intelligence," Kaufman said this week when asked what jumped out about Trufant. "When I watched him on film all summer, you just notice that he picks up on tendencies of receivers. And then obviously he's got the athleticism."
Kaufman wasn't the only receiver at the Combine to list Trufant as the best corner he faced, or one of the best.
"It's cool to get respect," Trufant said. "That's what you work for. That's what this game is about. To earn your peers' respect and your parents' respect. So that's pretty cool. It's humbling."
The proof, of course, will be in the process – which also will include his interviews with teams here that start Sunday night; his on-field work on Tuesday; the Huskies' Pro Day on March 13; and the pre-draft visits he'll be asked to make.
"I'm looking forward to seeing him and how he participates," Bradley said. "If he's anything like Marcus, it would be awesome."