Sports

John McGrath: Grateful Desmond Trufant gives back to local kids — gratis

In addition to his reputation as among the top all-around cornerbacks in the NFL, Desmond Trufant is an aspiring businessman who gets it.

Ask the Atlanta Falcons standout why he’s not charging a fee for his July 18 football camp at Wilson High School, and Trufant cuts to the chase.

“I’m going to make money on my own,” he said Tuesday. “I’ll have plenty of opportunities to earn money. I’m doing this camp to give back to the kids around here, and instill them with the thought of competing.”

Trufant learned to compete as the youngest sibling of Tacoma football’s royal family. Brothers Isaiah and Marcus preceded their younger sibling into pro football, and gave the kid no slack when he was growing up.

“They didn’t put training wheels on me,” he said. “My brothers played to win, and I hated to lose. Still do.”

Although Desmond Trufant’s camp — open to players between the ninth and 12th grades — is his first such project, the former University of Washington standout needs no primer on how to oversee an organized practice.

“We’ll simulate the way an NFL practice is run,” said Trufant, whose camp staff will include ex-UW players Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Kevin Smith and Marcus Peters as well as Washington State products Brandon Gibson and Xavier Cooper.

“We’ll begin at 11 a.m. with warm-ups and stretching, then go to one-on-one drills — wide receivers against cornerbacks, defensive linemen against offensive linemen — then break into teams and finish with seven-on-seven. There will be food available and some time for autographs when we wrap up at 1:30.”

The itinerary sounds much like a Seahawks practice — the kind Dan Quinn once helped oversee alongside head coach Pete Carroll. An enthusiastic type who shares Carroll’s penchant for high-octane workouts replete with music blaring from speakers, the former Seattle defensive coordinator already has his new Falcons team fired up after replacing Mike Smith — not a music-blaring-from-speakers guy — as head coach.

“Both approaches work,” said Trufant. “I’m just more accustomed to how coach Quinn does things. He’s a great guy with energy and passion. I’m excited about playing for him.”

Since the Falcons selected Trufant in the first round of the 2013 NFL draft, his career has run the thrills-to-agony gamut: Named by Pro Football Focus as the league’s 2013 defensive rookie of the year, he’s distinguished himself as a comprehensively effective cornerback adept at both breaking up downfield passes and performing the quite more taxing work of making a tackle on those occasions when failing to make a tackle can turn into a 30-yard difference in field position.

Sound tackling technique is less an art than an acquired discipline — talented cornerbacks tend to regard tackling as grunt work — but Trufant realizes the more he brings to the table, the better his chances are of securing a seat at the table regardless of schemes or down-and-distance variables.

Quinn is a disciple of Carroll, known for his belief that tall and physically imposing cornerbacks — and defensive backs in general — create tough matchups for wide receivers. Which is to say Quinn’s version of an ideal corner might not resemble the 6-foot, 184-pound Trufant.

Trufant’s willingness to initiate contact trumps any concerns about his size. During two seasons with the Falcons he’s participated in 131 tackles, an impressive stat that complements his five interceptions and 33 deflected passes.

Such individual success for Trufant has been mitigated by the Falcons’ record since his arrival: 10-22, with more head coaches replaced than playoff berths achieved.

He hates to lose, always did and always will, and Trufant won’t regard his NFL career as an unqualified success until the Falcons stop losing.

In the meantime, he has organized a one-day camp for high school players at his old high school, with the idea of simulating a pro team’s practice. The camp is full, but Trufant is entertaining the idea of expanding. (Further details can be obtained at dtcompetitioncamp.com.)

“I want kids to understand they’ve got to compete,” said Trufant, offering free advice in anticipation of his free camp. “And compete at everything.”

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