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From studying Trufant to playing with him

Posted May 23, 2012

Growing up in Seattle, Donny Lisowski used to try and pattern his game after Marcus Trufant. Now the rookie cornerback for the Seahawks finds himself in the same locker room and meeting room.


Donny Lisowski has had several pinch-me moments in his brief stay with the Seahawks.

Like finding himself in the same locker room and meeting room with veteran cornerback Marcus Trufant, a player Lisowski tried to pattern his game after while attending Seattle’s O’Dea High School.

“I’ve always watched the Seahawks, since I was a little kid,” Lisowski said Wednesday after the team’s OTA practice at Virginia Mason Athletic Center. “I’ve watched some of the players (in this locker room) to learn how to do my press technique.”

Right on cue, Trufant walked by. Cracking a huge smile, Lisowski offered, “That’s exactly who I watched. And now I’m sitting next to him in meetings learning great technique and trying to get better every day.

“It’s awesome.” 

Awesome, indeed. Almost as astounding, and inspiring, as the path that led the 5-foot-11, 185-pound cornerback to his place in the same locker room and meeting room as Trufant – another local kid who played at Tacoma’s Wilson High School and Washington State University before being the 11th pick overall in the 2003 NFL Draft by his hometown team.

But while Trufant kicked down the front door to enter the NFL, Lisowski came in through the bathroom window. He was one of 21 local prospects the Seahawks had in for a workout prior to this year’s NFL Draft. After not being drafted or signed as free agent following the draft, Lisowski was one of 30-something players invited to the Seahawks’ rookie minicamp on a tryout basis this month.

He was impressive enough in the pre-draft workout to get invited to the rookie minicamp, and impressive enough there that the team signed him – and Pete Carroll stamped the deal with a ringing endorsement.

“I like Donny Lisowski,” the Seahawks’ third-year coach said at the conclusion of the camp, but before Lisowski had even been signed. “He was all over the place out here. I had no (idea about him), other than he ran extremely fast when he showed up for a workout day. Then he went out here and made a bunch of plays.

“So I was really fired up about him. I think he’ll surprise you. I’m anxious to see what he can do on special teams, and all kinds of stuff. He’s a playmaker and was all over the field.”

That also was the case on Wednesday. Lisowski used his explosive speed to close on a play, breaking up a Tarvaris Jackson pass that was intended for Deon Butler.

The bang-bang breakup set off a celebration by his defensive teammates – those on the sideline as well as those on the field with him. And this on a windswept afternoon when there were multiple highlight plays. Like cornerback Richard Sherman tipping away a pass, getting to a back just as he was catching a pass and then intercepting a pass – all in a four-play sequence. Like Roy Lewis tipping a pass that was intercepted by Phillip Adams. Like Doug Baldwin using only one hand to haul in a Matt Flynn pass. Like Ricardo Lockette making a falling catch of a deep pass from Jackson, despite tight coverage from Sherman.

But Lisowski is the kind of against-all-odds player everyone is rooting for.

In addition to playing cornerback at O’Dea, he also was an option quarterback on a Fighting Irish team that lost to Skyline in the 2007 Class 3A state championship game.

“That was a lot of fun,” he said. “In the coverages, I knew where all the corners were going to be because I played corner as well. So it definitely helped.”

Lisowski then made a recruiting trip to Montana, and was offered a scholarship on the spot by then-coach Bobby Hauck.

“I went there to watch one of their games, and it was snowing,” he said. “Coach Hauck told me on the sideline right before the game started (that I was getting a scholarship). So that was a pretty special moment.”

Playing primarily as the nickel back, Lisowski had 37 tackles for the Grizzlies last season and returned an interception 35 yards for a touchdown in a playoff victory over Northern Iowa. He also was named special teams player of the year in the Big Sky Conference.

The one element of Lisowski’s game that always has jumped out is his speed. He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.38 seconds at his Pro Day and came close to that during his workout for the Seahawks.

So one thing has led to another, and here he is – attempting to stick with his hometown team, on the practice squad if not the 53-man roster. In addition to working at cornerback, Lisowski also has done drills as a slot receiver, giving him another the-more-things-you-can-do chance to display his speed.

“This is a great opportunity,” Lisowski said. “This is my hometown and I grew up watching the Seahawks. All I can ask for is an opportunity, and now it’s here.”