April 25, 2013
NEW YORK - As his career as a four-year Huskies starter was ending a few months ago, Desmond Trufant said of the opportunity awaiting him: "I've had a dream my whole life to have the opportunity to play in the NFL. But nothing's guaranteed."
It is now.
Trufant became the third member of his family to make it to the league on Thursday night when the Atlanta Falcons selected him 22nd overall in the 2013 NFL Draft.
The first-team All-Pac-12 and second-team All-America selection as a senior last fall joins Dana Hall (1992's 18th-overall pick by San Francisco) as the only Huskies defensive backs to ever be drafted in the first round.
His oldest brother, Marcus, has spent the last 11 seasons with the Seattle Seahawks. Middle brother Isaiah has played the last three years for the New York Jets.
The three Trufant DBs were together in their hometown of Tacoma, Wash., watching on television as the youngest brother became UW's fourth first-round pick since 1995.
"Now, I'm going to try to make a name, make an impact in the league," Desmond Trufant told Atlanta reporters on a conference call late Thursday. "I'm ready to come in and work hard from day one."
Trufant started 47 games at Washington, including 45 in a row until a hamstring injury sidelined him for one game last fall at Colorado. His 33 passes broken up were a UW record. He also had 195 tackles and six interceptions over four seasons.
He was considered a third-round pick by most at the start of last season. Then he became UW's defensive MVP and was also the recipient of the Guy Flaherty Award, the UW's oldest and most prestigious honor given to the team's most inspirational player.
He was best when the most were watching. He single-handedly shut down top receivers and controlled his side of the field in Washington's nationally televised upsets of top-10 visitors Stanford and Oregon State last fall.
His stock kept soaring following the MAACO Bowl Las Vegas. His clocking of 4.38 seconds in the 40-yard dash at the NFL combine plus his dominance during practices at the Senior Bowl propelled him into the first round.
It is clear the Falcons drafted him with the expectations he could start this fall. Atlanta traded with the St. Louis Rams to move up seven spots and take Trufant. The Falcons have released three of their top five cornerbacks from last year's team that beat the Seahawks in the NFC playoffs. Before they drafted Trufant, the Falcons had just three corners on their roster -- and one has been a practice-squad player.
"This was our targeted pick," Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff told reporters in Atlanta. "This is who we focused on all throughout the offseason.
"We look for people who can get their hands on balls. Not only for passes broken up but also interceptions, which he did a nice job with as well."
A graduate of Tacoma's Wilson High School, Trufant is the 20th Husky taken in the first round of an NFL Draft -- and the first since Jake Locker, who went to the Tennessee Titans with the eighth pick in 2011. Trufant joins the likes of Steve Emtman, Hugh McElhenny, Lincoln Kennedy, Blair Bush and Ron Holmes as Husky first-rounders.
"It's a great organization, a great team," Trufant told reporters of Atlanta. "This is the perfect place for me."