Oct. 9, 2012
|WASHINGTON VS. #11 USC
Saturday, Oct. 13 | 4 pm | CenturyLink Field | Buy Tickets
Gameday Central | TV: FOX | Radio: KJR (Affiliates)
By Gregg Bell - UW Director of Writing
SEATTLE - Desmond Trufant was recruited to a different Washington program, by a staff that isn't here anymore.
He entered UW in 2009, months after Steve Sarkisian and his new assistants arrived from Southern California. For a short time, native of Tacoma, Wash., little brother to two NFL defensive backs, was a stranger in his own game, in his home land.
All new coaches. All new regime. All new ways to train - even to eat and dress.
How much did Trufant want to be a Husky? The program was 0-12 the year Trufant made up his mind to stay home for college and not go across the state, as his brothers Marcus and Isaiah had done before him.
UW has played in two bowl games in three seasons since Desmond's decision.
Now, four years and 40 consecutive starts into his career entering Saturday's game between the Huskies (3-2, 1-1 Pac-12) and 11th-ranked USC (4-1, 2-1), Trufant just chuckles at all he's been through at Washington.
"You never know what you are going to get," he said on the edge of the East Field following a recent practice. "I live for today. You never know what's going to happen tomorrow."
What he has today is a three-year hold on the Huskies starting cornerback job, a selection as a senior co-captain this season, a prime chance to join his brothers in the NFL - and an appreciation for how far he and UW have come in his college career.
"I'm just thankful for everything that's happened," he said. "We've got great coaches. A great scheme. Great game plans. Practice is very up-tempo."
Trufant was coveted as an all-state cornerback out of Tacoma's Woodrow Wilson High School in 2008. Many such signees let their thoughts if not their college careers wander after the coaches who recruited them leave a college program. It takes years of recruiting to form the trust that comes with signing a letter of intent, and that trust often vanishes for incoming freshmen amid a coaching change.
Yet Trufant never wavered from his commitment to UW.
"No, not at all - especially with Coach Sark coming in," he says now. "That was one of the main reasons I came, because of him, because he came from `SC. He was a winner, and I knew he was going to change the program.
"And it was close to home, as well. I'm happy I came here. I'm happy for the decision."
Trufant is finishing remaining elective classes he needs to receive his sociology degree. He says, "I'm going to definitely get my degree."
"My mom (Constance), she's always been school-first, because you never know which play might be your last one on the field. She's stressed to me that you always have to have a backup plan. I'm definitely going to continue my studies, definitely."
As for what he may eventually use it for, he chuckled.
"Hopefully I won't have to think about what I will do with that for a while," he said.
Months before his final college game, NFLdraftscout.com lists the youngest Trufant as the third highest-rated cornerback among 230 projected into April's draft.
That stock got a boost two weeks ago when Trufant shut down Stanford's outside passing game, often while as the only cornerback on the field in UW defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox's changing schemes.
"Desmond's played very well," Wilcox said Tuesday. "He's really talented guy, very competitive.
"I wouldn't trade him for anybody."
Rob Rang, a senior draft analyst with CBSSports.com (who happens to be based in Tacoma), sees Trufant as a likely second- or third-round pick. Rang said Tuesday he thinks Trufant and Oregon State's Jordan Poyer are the top two senior cornerbacks in the Pac-12.
Keith Heyward has coached both Trufant and Poyer. He was Oregon State's defensive backs coach until Sarkisian hired him to the same job at UW in January.
He joins others in seeing Saturday's test against USC wide receivers Robert Woods and Marqise Lee as another chance for Trufant to influence the outcome of a game himself, while impressing scouts and the football nation.
"His stock's been rising around here for a while," Heyward said. "He'll get to cover those guys, both those guys, during the game. It's a chance for him to display his talents against their talents.
"He's been doing a great job in coverage, in tackling. I mean, he's been solid. ... So far, he's been playing great."
Trufant's parents are retired. Constance worked for the Social Security Administration years ago. His father Lloyd made windows for Milgard, a Tacoma-based windows company. They are now full-time fans of their three sons.
Truly full time.
Isaiah, 29, has played the last three seasons as a defensive back with the New York Jets after a college career at Eastern Washington, in Cheney.
Marcus, 31, was the 11th-overall draft choice in 2003 out of Washington State. He's played every one of his 10 NFL seasons for the hometown Seattle Seahawks.
Mom and dad often split their football weekends. Last month when the Huskies played at LSU, Trufant's father was in Louisiana to see Desmond and visit family in New Orleans. Desmond's mother was in the New Jersey Meadowlands for Isaiah's season opener with the Jets.
It's a graduated, across-America version of the car trips Desmond used to go on with his parents to see Marcus play for WSU across the state in Pullman and to see Isaiah play at Eastern outside Spokane.
Those trips across mountain passes and hundreds of miles of farmland are paying off for him and the Huskies now.
"Just watching all their games growing up, they might not be telling me something direct sometimes, but just watching them for so many years I've learned things from them," Trufant said of his older brothers playing the same position he does. "Watching their reactions, certain little techniques, that's definitely helped me."
Trufant started nine games and broke up eight passes as a true freshman in 2009, Sarkisian's first season at UW. He returned an interception for a touchdown in the November 2010 home finale against UCLA. That helped spark the program-turning, four-game winning streak that ended with Washington's first bowl win in nine years.
By last season, the 6-foot, 180-pound Trufant's displaying his renewed confidence by thudding into receivers far bigger than he, both in practices and in games.
You can be sure the Trufant brothers were watching on national television two weeks ago when their little brother out-fought Stanford tight end Levine Toilolo, who eight inches taller, for a game-ending interception in Washington's upset of the eighth-ranked Cardinal at CenturyLink Field.
It was his second game-sealing interception in 12 months. He leaped to make one in the Husky Stadium end zone during the final minute in the 2011 opener against Eastern Washington.
"I talk to them all the time. Every other day," Desmond said of Marcus and Isaiah. "They've got their families. They've got their business going on. But we are a close family, definitely."
And when first Marcus and then Isaiah made it to the pros, Desmond's dream of following them became even more realistic.
"Definitely, I've seen my brothers live the dream, so I've thought I can live the dream, as well," Trufant said. "And just watching all their games, all the Seahawks games over the years, just being so close to it, it obviously gave me more motivation to make it as well."
He's almost there. But first, he's got seven games - make that eight, counting the bowl UW expects - to take care of here for the Huskies.
Starting with a huge one Saturday.