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Originally published August 22, 2011 at 9:44 PM | Page modified August 23, 2011 at 7:59 PM

Desmond Trufant is cool at the corner

UW cornerback Desmond Trufant is doing all the right things in fall camp which is enabling him to make big plays.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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The little things make big plays.

When Demetrice Martin talked about the growth of cornerback Desmond Trufant, Washington's defensive-backs coach used one short phrase to explain the difference a year makes.

Later, when asked the same question, Trufant said the same thing.

The little things make big plays.

"I've always believed in myself and had confidence, but it's having the right mental state, just knowing what to look at and not trying to do too much or try to make the big play every time, just do what I'm coached to do," Trufant said.

After a strong freshman season — he became a starter four games into his Huskies career — Trufant said the little things caught up to him as a sophomore.

Sometimes he lined up too deep. Sometimes he wasn't deep enough. Sometimes it was as simple as taking a step the wrong direction at the snap. It became the difference between making a play and giving one up.

"Little things like that were putting me a step behind," Trufant said.

When asked how he's evolved into one of the highlights of the Huskies' fall camp, he credited the coaches for teaching him the technique he needed to be successful.

The little things make big plays.

"He's got the swagger that you need to go play at corner right now," Huskies coach Steve Sarkisian said. "It's not fake. It's not false. It's genuine."

That swagger is the by-product of understanding where he is supposed to be on the field, regardless of the situation. He set a foundation that has allowed him to make plays in fall camp, most memorably the hit against freshman Austin Seferian-Jenkins that saw the 184-pound defensive back level the 258-pound tight end in practice.

"He's doing all the little things right over and over again, which enables him to make big plays," Martin said.

During Monday's practice, Trufant lined up in one-on-one drills and refused to let receivers catch passes. Those drills, and others, are recorded and, every few weeks, Martin dissects the film and creates a tally of how the defensive backs perform when they're matched up one-on-one against receivers.

It has become a competition, one Martin said started midway through last season.

"Any ball that's thrown your way, I don't care if anybody's out there playing catch or toss, don't let them catch it," Martin said.

When asked who is at the top of the competition so far this season, Martin said Trufant is "leading the pack right now."

Trufant said the competition keeps the secondary focused the deeper they get into camp.

"It's great," he said. "It keeps everybody motivated. When you're in the third week of camp, some guys lose it mentally, but just competing with guys like Sean Parker for interceptions. You know, me and him are going back and forth."

The little things make big plays.

In addition to the advice he gets from the coaching staff, the Wilson High School of Tacoma product also leans on his brothers, who are both in the NFL — Marcus, who played at Washington State, is with the Seahawks and Isaiah, who played at Eastern Washington, is with the Eagles.

The best piece of advice they've provided is to remove all distractions, stop worrying about who is watching in the stands and avoid trying to live up to the family name.

"Whenever I've done that, I've been successful," Trufant said. "Whenever I worried about those things, it wasn't good."

Trufant said those things could have played a part in his struggles as a sophomore but, whatever the reason, he is confident he is a better player because of it.

"I just had to learn from those mistakes," he said. "I think those mistakes were necessary for me to get to where I am now."

The little things make big plays.

Mason Kelley: 206-464-8277 or mkelley@seattletimes.com

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