A year and a half after Trufant’s retirement from pro football in April 2014, Marcus Trufant will join 24 other Cougar greats as the newest members of the Washington State Athletic Hall of Fame. It’s an honor that further solidifies the impact he made throughout his career.
Sitting on a couch in the Cougar-themed basement of his Bellevue home, Marcus Trufant cocks his head, pondering the question.
Has there ever been another player in the history of football who’s been through an entire career without playing for a team from outside his home state?
He isn’t sure, the former Wilson High, Washington State and Seattle Seahawks star says.
Marcus Trufant file
Age: 34 Home town: Tacoma
High School: Wilson
College: Washington State
NFL: Played with Seahawks, 2003-12
In this era of NCAA transfers and NFL free agency, getting to stay close to home for a full career is a luxury that’s almost unheard of.
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Julius Peppers, a North Carolinian who played his college ball at UNC and then spent eight seasons with the Carolina Panthers, comes to mind. But Peppers signed with the Chicago Bears in 2010.
Floridian Derrick Brooks, who played linebacker at Florida State and then for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and Trufant might be the only players of the modern era who’ve managed that feat. And even Trufant almost played himself off that list when he signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars in spring 2013, but was cut in training camp before the season opener.
“There’s not many people who get to do that, and when they do, they don’t get to do it for very long,” Trufant says. “I’ve just been blessed to be able to be at home.”
A year and a half after Trufant’s retirement from pro football in April 2014, Trufant will join 24 other Cougar greats as the newest members of the Washington State Athletic Hall of Fame. It’s an honor that further solidifies the impact he made throughout his career.
“He stands all by himself based on what he’s done here (at Washington State) and since he left,” said former WSU coach Mike Price, who recruited and coached Trufant. “It’s just been tremendous.”
On Rose Bowl team
Trufant is one of the nine football players who will be honored this weekend as part of the 2015 class, but he and teammate Lamont Thompson hold the distinction of being the first members of Price’s two Rose Bowl teams to earn Hall-of-Famer status at WSU.
Thompson, was a safety on the squad that played in the 1998 Rose Bowl, while Trufant got to end his senior season with a trip to the 2003 Rose Bowl.
Both were shoo-ins for the hall of fame, said WSU Athletics Assistant Director of Development Jason Gesser, who played with Thompson and Trufant from 1999 to 2002, and is now on the WSU Athletics Hall of Fame selection committee.
“You have to be 10 years out to be considered for the Hall of Fame and (WSU Athletic Director) Bill Moos asked me, ‘From your class, which guys deserve to go in first?’” Gesser says. “I said obviously it would be Marcus Trufant and Lamont Thompson because of their leadership and success and what they meant to the team and what they did at Washington State and then in the NFL.”
Thompson, a Richmond, Calif. native, was selected by the Cincinnati Bengals in the second round of the 2002 NFL draft, and he also played for the Titans, Dolphins and Jaguars before retiring in 2008.
Trufant, who was selected 11th overall in the first round of the 2003 draft by the Seahawks, started as a rookie in 2003 and was a staple in the lineup until his release in 2012. He started 125 games over 10 seasons, played in the Super Bowl against the Pittsburgh Steelers following the 2005 season and was voted to the Pro Bowl following the 2007 season.
Despite all his success, Trufant has never forgotten his roots. Six years ago, he and his wife, Jessica, bought a home in Newcastle, where they are now raising their five children. Trufant says he’s never wanted to leave Washington. This is his home, and now that he’s done playing football, he wants to spend more time in the community, extending the reach of his nonprofit, the Trufant Family Foundation, which funds programs for local children.
He’s also started and coaches a Tacoma-based youth football team named the Northwest Cougars. The little Cougars wear red and grey, just like the Cougars of Trufant’s alma mater.
“We practice on the same field I started my football career on,” Trufant says, grinning.
Grateful to Price
To this day, Trufant remains grateful to Price – the only Pac-10 coach who offered him an athletic scholarship.
“I wasn’t heavily recruited coming out of high school,” Trufant says. “Being from Tacoma, I don’t know that the light was shining bright enough down there.”
Trufant joined the Cougars at the beginning of a rebuilding phase, two years removed from their first Rose Bowl appearance under Price.
He would leave four years later as a first team All-American, one of the leaders of the first WSU football class to put together back-to-back 10-win seasons, and perhaps, Price believes, as the best cornerback to ever play for Washington State.
“Marcus, he just has it all. He was never in my office for discipline, he never did one thing wrong, he had good grades, good off-the-field conduct and no rough edges,” Price said. “He showed great leadership on and off the field and in the locker room. More than anything else, he’s got such good character.”
This weekend will be a celebration of what Trufant and his class accomplished at WSU. They stand as proof that with the right ingredients, a team can turn things around in the span of four years.
“I just think it’s about the culture and the confidence to come from a 3-9 record my first year there and know, ‘OK, if we get some guys in here who really believe, we can make this happen,’” Trufant said. “I think we always had a chip on our shoulder as far as being in Washington and having a lot of kids from Washington who pretty much got overlooked.
“So you always have that chip and you have to go out and prove yourself every week. You’ve got to have that little edge.”