UW’s Trufant picked in 1st round

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TACOMA — Surrounded by friends and family, Desmond Trufant sat at the head of the table, just a couple of feet away from a flat-screen television inside a downtown Tacoma hotel meeting room.

Occasionally, he took sips from a glass of water and rarely left his seat during the first 2 hours and 40 minutes of Thursday’s NFL draft.

He tried to remain calm, but inside he was a nervous wreck as several defensive backs were taken ahead of him.

“I kind of thought why and what’s going on?” he said.

At 7:36 p.m. his cellphone rang. It was the Atlanta Falcons.

“I think this is it,” Trufant’s mother Constance said across the room. “Is this it?”

Trufant always had a good feeling about Atlanta, which was one of three teams he visited before the draft.

He spoke quietly on his phone while the room grew silent and huddled around the TV.

Trufant grabbed his 1 ½-year-old nephew Kaleek and placed him on his knee as they watched NFL commissioner Roger Goodell announce what he’d known for a few minutes.

The Falcons moved up eight spots from No. 30 to 22 in a trade with the St. Louis Rams to select the Washington cornerback.

And then the tears flowed.

He hugged his father Lloyd, his mother and his football-playing brothers Marcus, who spent the past 11 years with the Seahawks, and Isaiah, who played the last three seasons with the New York Jets.

“I just had a lot going through my head,” Trufant said. “I’m just happy. Best day of my life. I worked so hard to get here.”

Trufant was the fifth defensive back taken after cornerback Dee Milner (ninth, New York), cornerback DJ Hayden (12th, Oakland), safety Kenny Vacarro (15, New Orleans) and safety Eric Reid (18, San Francisco).

It wasn’t lost on Trufant that the Falcons used a third- and sixth-round pick to move up in the draft. The 6-foot, 190-pound cornerback could be a crucial piece for Atlanta, which advanced to the NFC Championship game last season.

“It tells me they really must have seen something in me, and I’m going to return the favor,” Trufant said. “I’m going to work hard. I’m going to grind from Day 1. I’m going to make an impact. I’m just waiting to get there now.”

Trufant is the first UW player taken in the first round since Jake Locker in 2011. He’s also the first UW cornerback chosen in the first round since Dana Hall in 1992.

Trufant, the youngest of three brothers, also followed his brothers’ footsteps.

If all three make rosters next season, they’ll become the first set of three brothers in the modern NFL era to play the same position at the same time.

“It’s something out of a fairy tale or something,” said Marcus, 32, the oldest Trufant who was a No. 11 overall pick in 2005 by the Seahawks.

There was hardly any doubt the youngest Trufant would join his brothers.

“He stood out early on,” Isaiah Trufant, 30, said. “He was always on top of his game and on top of his class in any sport he did. Just growing up, he had dreams and he’s making those come true.”

Desmond Trufant, an All-Pac-12 first team pick as a senior, had 36 tackles, one sack, one interception and nine passes defended last season. However, he had just six interceptions during his UW career, and many questioned his playmaking ability.

His stock began to rise at the Senior Bowl and soared at the NFL Draft Combine when he clocked 4.38 seconds in the 40-yard dash, which was the second-fastest time for a defensive back.

“I’m real proud of Desmond. He’s worked so hard, and I watched him climb the ladder,” Lloyd Trufant said during a champagne toast. “Good luck to you. Hang in there and be strong. You’re a true believer.”

After the small draft gathering at the hotel, Trufant joined about 500 friends and fans who waited for him at a party in his honor.

“This is the best day of my life,” he said. “I can’t repeat that enough.”

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