For the Trufant family, NFL success will come in threes

NEWCASTLE, Wash. -- Lloyd and Constance Trufant have three sons -- Marcus, Isaiah, and Desmond. All have been high-school football stars in Tacoma, Wash., about 30 miles south of Seattle. All have played for colleges in their home states -- Marcus at Washington State, Isaiah at Eastern Washington, and Desmond at Washington. And when Desmond, the youngest, hears his name called in the NFL draft on Thursday, April 25 (because he's projected as a first-round pick), his mother and father will be able to experience a very rare gift -- they'll have three sons in the NFL, with different teams, but playing the same position of cornerback. There have been five different sibling trios playing in the NFL at the same time throughout the league's long history, but we're about to see the first threesome of cornerbacks playing in the NFL all at the same time.

Marcus, taken with the 11th overall pick in the 2003 NFL draft, has played for the Seahawks all this time. Isaiah, who came up to the NFL through arena football as an undrafted free agent, has played in 23 games for the New York Jets since 2010. Desmond, who started 45 games for the Huskies, has replicated Marcus' status as one of the best cornerbacks in his draft class.

But for Lloyd and Constance Trufant, it's not about where their sons are rated on any board; it's about how they've all been able to intersect the family through the game of football. There was already one unusual occurrence last year, when the Seahawks welcomed the Jets to Seattle's CenturyLink Field on Nov. 11,just one day after Desmond's Huskies beat Utah, 34-15, in that same stadium.

"It's not that different," Lloyd Trufant said about the emotions surrounding Desmond's imminent NFL adventure. "To me, it had just subsided -- all that excitement. But now, it's kind of bringing back memories of what we did with Marcus, when he went in the league. It's like deja vu -- it's just as exciting, and I'm feeling the same way I felt back then.

"I guess after 10 years of football, it's just ... 'Next!'"

Well, for most families, it isn't quite that simple. Desmond was 13 years old when Marcus was selected by the Seahawks. He was a sophomore at Washington when Isaiah made it with the Jets. As a result, when Desmond was bitten by the football bug in high school, there was a lot of experience for him to draw upon.

"He didn't play football in middle school, because they didn't have a football team," Constance Trufant said of her youngest son. "He played some flag football, but it was baseball, track, soccer, and then basketball in middle school."

Don Clegg coached all three Trufants at Wilson High, and Mrs. Trufant remembers him telling her, when Marcus was drafted, that he was going to wait to retire until he had coached all three of her sons. That happened when Desmond hit Wilson High in 2005 and went on to star as a football player just like his brothers.

"There was a lot of influence," Desmond said of the effect his oldest brother had on him. "I always wanted to play football when I was young, and seeing my brother get drafted, and playing in my home state, it definitely motivated me to want to play."

Marcus, now 32 years old and a 10-year NFL veteran, played slot corner for the Seahawks over the last two seasons as Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner became the starting cornerbacks on what has become one of the league's best secondaries. Seattle's recent acquisition of former Buffalo Bills and Minnesota Vikings veteran cornerback Antoine Winfield may limit his on-field prospects in Seattle, but Marcus sees few limitations in Desmond's future.

"I see a lot of similarities as far as his aggressiveness on the field," Marcus said of Desmond's play. "Des is a very competitive player -- just simple stuff, like when he get together on the basketball court over the holidays, he's just as competitive then as he is on the football field. He's a little bit more fiery than I am -- maybe he talks a bit more trash, and that works. I may be a little quieter, and Des may be more boisterous, but it's all about the same goal -- how you get yourself ready to play. A lot of similarities -- footwork, speed, and tackling. Just being a well-rounded cornerback, I think that's what we both bring to the table."

When it was pointed out to Marcus that he's also done his fair share of barking on the field, he relented a bit.

"It's all in good fun, man!" he said with a laugh. "As you get into the game, but I think Des takes it a step above, and there's nothing wrong with that."

Desmond was also helped by the fact that, though Marcus was off in college and the NFL as he was growing up, Isaiah was around long enough to show him the ropes.

"Isaiah didn't back down on him, and that's where Desmond got a lot of that toughness," Constance Trufant said. "Going ahead and doing things in spite of how hard it was. Because in basketball, or they would race with each other -- it was always very competitive. And nobody ever said, 'I'm going to give you a break, Desmond, because you're the younger brother.' It was like, 'We're gonna go full speed -- you go with us."

That helped Desmond get through a couple of transitional issues -- making his name as an NFL draft prospect despite Washington's sometimes comically inept defense, and rising to the top during Senior Bowl week and at the scouting combine. If he wasn't a first-round prospect before those two events (and he may not have been), Desmond's talent palette became far more apparent when he was matched up against the best in his draft class. He looked to be among the most mechanically refined defensive backs through much of the pre-draft process, and the speed and agility he showed during combine tests proved that this is no low-ceiling player.

"Once I got to Mobile [home of the Senior Bowl] and I saw the competition, and the one-on-ones, my confidence just shot up," he said. "I just continued to do what they taught me at the University of Washington, and I didn't change it up. I didn't try to do anything new; I just did what I had been doing, and I was confident with it."

The football talent displayed by the three brothers may be God-given, but the attitude comes from their parents. Lloyd worked as a framer for Milgard Windows, and Constance as a manager for the Social Security Administration. They told their children that there were no shortcuts to excellence, and poured all their efforts into making sure that their boys had everything they needed.

"I'm proud of them because of the effort they've all put in," Lloyd said. "They set out to do something, and they did it. That's the big time for me -- if you say you're going to do it, do it. I tell people all the time -- when they first started out, all of them, whe they got affiliated with any sport. When it's time to go to practice, somebody doesn't want to go to practice. And I would say, 'No, you're going to go to practice, because you said you'd do this.' We instilled that in them when they were little, and now I see that paying off."

It's about to pay off again, in ways that the Trufant family can truly call their own. And there may be more Trufants in the NFL down the road -- Isaiah has two young sons, there's already been some nebulous discussion of the future.

"I see the same things in my grandkids," Lloyd said. "That activity and drive. Hopefully, they'll come on and do something, too."

"Isaiah's wife had a little T-shirt made for the oldest son, and she sent me a picture," Constance added. "It said something like, 'Next NFL Drafted Player.' And I said, 'Okay,' and I'm doing the math. 20 years? We're still young enough to be here for that."

Stay tuned -- the odds would seem to be pretty good.

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