Desmond Trufant, holding a white and red megaphone to complement his bold, red pants, paced the turf at Wilson High School on Saturday as he instructed the next wave of Tacoma football players.
Hosting his third annual Desmond Trufant Competition Camp, Trufant is one of many Tacoma athletes who regularly give back to the community.
This camp isn’t about participation trophies and moral victories; instead, it’s about hustling and improving. Standout players were given awards at the camp’s conclusion —offensive and defensive MVP, as well as position-based awards.
“That’s the name of the camp,” Trufant said. “I want them to really compete, because if you want something, you gotta go get it.”
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Fellow NFL players such as Xavier Cooper, as well as Atlanta Falcons teammates Robert Alford and Brian Poole, joined Trufant at his alma mater.
Two football fields were broken into segments based on players’ positions. Offensive linemen practiced protecting a quarterback dummy while defensive linemen tried attacking it. Seven-on-seven drills were held.
The NFL players acted as coaches and teachers, interacting with the players and offering advice between drills.
Dede Smith sat in a folding chair on the sidelines as she watched her 16-year-old son, Zak, participate in lineman drills. Although Zak doesn’t plan to play in college, the camp’s competition and star power keeps him coming back.
“I think they have great coaches out here showing them different techniques that they can learn for their season,” Dede Smith said. “It’s cool to have kids from different schools together. They can learn to all play together and have respect for each other.”
Zak said he’s a big fan of Trufant, which makes the experience even more special.
“This is one of the best things that I do,” Trufant said. “Just being out here with the kids, talking to them and watching them compete. It’s fun, and that’s what it’s all about: everybody getting together for something positive. I’m glad I can do it.”
Trufant, five years removed from his senior season at Washington, is considered one of the NFL’s best cornerbacks. In November, however, he suffered a pectoral injury that required surgery and forced him to miss the Falcons’ run to the Super Bowl.
The injury came as a surprise to Trufant, who had been remarkably healthy throughout his career. He hadn’t missed an NFL game before, and he missed only one game during his entire career at Washington.
“You definitely learn a lot throughout the process,” Trufant said. “I feel good, though. I feel healthy and ready to move forward. You just gotta work hard and rehab through it and keep pushing yourself. I feel good, so I’m gonna be ready to go.”