All those long trips down the lonely highways east of the Cascade Mountains have paid off for Desmond Trufant.
You see, he was there on most of them. He made the 51/2-hour trek with his folks to Pullman to see oldest brother, Marcus, play football at Washington State (1999-2002), and the five-hour drive to Cheney to be in the stands for Isaiah at Eastern Washington (2002-05).
“Countless times,” said Desmond, as if one of those car rides happened just last week. “I don’t even remember being home for the weekend. I was kind of getting frustrated over being on the road all the time.”
There is something to be said for watching the best players in college football – his siblings included – go at it week after week, whether it was in the Pacific-10 Conference or the Big Sky Conference. Desmond also got to absorb football in some of the best atmospheres around – in playoff games, Apple Cups and Rose Bowls.
That has had a profound influence on Desmond, now in his sophomore season as a star cornerback at the University of Washington.
“Because Desmond had the opportunity to observe both brothers, he definitely was more aware of the things he needed to do to be successful,” said Don Clegg, who coached all of the Trufant sons in football at Wilson High School. “Plus, he didn’t want to stain or hurt the image of the Trufant family in any way, especially on the athletic field.”
Oddly enough, those trips provided rare opportunities to spend time with his brothers growing up. Ten years younger than Marcus, Desmond was 8 when he started going to WSU games. And eight years younger than Isaiah, he was 10 when the family started making trips to Cheney.
“He’s a lot more independent because he had to do a lot more by himself,” Lloyd Trufant, the football-playing trio’s father, said of Desmond. “He kind of came up being strong-minded, and made decisions by himself. He didn’t want to piggyback on what his brothers had done or were doing.”
By the Trufant standard, Desmond flew almost under the radar. Part of it was because the Wilson teams he played on weren’t state contenders. Another reason was that he didn’t post the gaudy statistics Marcus and Isaiah had as prep stars.
Desmond just sort of went about his business.
“When I had to get on him a few times because he was such a good athlete, and did not have the competition and had a tendency to be lazy Desmond told me, ‘Hey, I’ve seen the best. I’ve practiced with the best, so I know what it takes,’ ” Clegg said. “He was a lot more independent that way.”
That doesn’t mean Desmond has escaped the big, protective, warm grasp of his mother, Constance, who holds her youngest son in check at all times.
“Mom wanted a girl (when Desmond was born),” Lloyd said, laughing. “She was tougher on him. I was like dad and buddy at the same time.”
The routine for game weekend is simple.
When Desmond goes away for road games, he calls his parents as soon as he gets off the airplane the day before kickoff. For home games, the three of them usually chat while he is camped out in the team hotel.
“They call, always checking in on me,” Desmond said. “But they let me do my own thing, too, because they know what comes with all of this (playing college football).”
For UW home games, friends and cousins usually take up Desmond’s player-VIP tickets right behind the bench. The family bought its own season tickets in the upper level on the north side – Section 43.
And after games, the first faces Desmond sees around Hec Edmundson Pavilion are his parents.
“It’s usually a hug, and catching up,” Desmond said. “Then they check my body (for injuries). And my mom always tells me to put a coat on, and put a hood over my head to take care of myself.”
Todd Milles: 253-597-8442 email@example.com
DID YOU KNOW?
• In 10 games for the Huskies this season, Desmond has registered 37 tackles (28 solo, 9 assisted).
• As a true freshman at Washington, Desmond earned honorable mention all-Pacific-10 Conference honors and won the Travis Spring Most Outstanding Freshman award at the team’s postseason banquet.