Wednesday, January 21, 2009

He Ain't Heavy....

He's my brother.

So UW honks have been extra honkish about the verbal commit of young Desmond Trufant, the three-star special out of Tacoma. Desmond is a 5-11, 170lb senior who is regarded as an excellent all-around athlete and has the proverbial "high ceiling" tag. Extremely thin right now, but if he's anything like his older brother, he'll put on just enough weight to maintain his quickness and ball hawking skills.

But as Atlanta Coug pointed out in comments on Monday, what's up with a Trufant going to UW? After all, big brother Marcus is regarded as one of the greatest WSU defensive backs of all-time, and one of the best in recent Pac-10 history. He was a high first-round draft pick by the Seahawks, has been a starter his entire professional career, has been to a Pro Bowl and has already cashed in, big-time, on the free agent market. And the middle Trufant brother, Isaiah, played for EWU....and Paul Wulff!

Yes, there already has been a younger Trufant who didn't go to WSU.

Consider Isaiah Trufant, DB, EWU: Middle brother between Marcus and Desmond. Has been heard repeatedly saying "Marcus Marcus Marcus!" when railing against the success of the older Trufant (ok, really bad Brady Bunch joke). Seriously though, Isaiah had a decent Big Sky career. Twice an all-Big Sky pick, he compensated by his lack of size (5-8, 170) by playing hard and fast, regarded as a very high-character kid. Went on to play some arena football, first in Spokane and then signed with the Arizona Rattlers. Of course, Isaiah might have updated his resume with the news that the Arena Football League will shut down in 2009 due to some tough economic times. It's rough out there.
EDGE: BIG BROTHER

So it seemed like a slam dunk. How could the younger Trufant possibly head to UW?

The reasons why are many, but mainly it's a point of personal preference. Some want to simply blaze their own trail. If you have ever been a younger sibling in your family, have you always done exactly what your older brother/sister have done? Or did you do your own thing? And Desmond, in his quotes after his commitment, has been quick to point out that he wants to be part of a UW turnaround, and this first class could go a long way towards better days.

And while Desmond claims WSU came after him pretty hard, there is even some speculation out there that WSU wasn't so enamored with Desmond, and with the number of defensive backs in this recruiting class now at six, they wanted to save the scholarship for another position of need, such as defensive tackle. But personally I don't buy it. Of those six defensive back verbals, five of them are considered safeties and only one is a true corner. If history is any teacher, we know that some of those safety commits will eventually become linebackers at WSU. Louis Bland was a safety last year, remember? Anyway, at least I believe that if Desmond Trufant wanted to be a Cougar, he would have been a Cougar. He's not an all-world candidate, but he is a three-star player from Washington, rated as the #74 player at his position in the country. Why would WSU say no to him?

Personally, as a Coug fan I'm a little disappointed. It would be a cool thing to see another Trufant patrolling the WSU secondary. But the reality is not every little brother follows big brother. It happens, but bloodlines don't guarantee a thing.

But you know what else? In the big picture, from a WSU perspective, this might not be that big of a deal. First of all, how can you lose something that was never yours to begin with? Despite the "blood" ties and all that to WSU and coach Wulff, well, Desmond never really had WSU as his recruiting favorite. And he never did give them a verbal commitment. He never even had an official visit to Pullman. He appears to have been more interested in ASU all along, and then UW swooped in and nabbed him.

And, at least in recent WSU history, little brother has NOT topped big brother. It's true. So let UW crow about getting young Trufant. If history has anything to do with it, there is absolutely no guarantee that he'll ever approach his the level of play set by Marcus.

Consider some recent WSU brother combo's, and how that worked out:


1) The Hanson Brothers

Big Brother: Jason Hanson, kicker, WSU - all-everything kicker who is STILL PLAYING in the NFL, still setting records, showing no signs of slowing down. An extraordinary kicking career in a miserable sweat-sewer city like Detroit, but still, a great career. But his WSU career was just as good - Hanson's percentage of 57.1 for field goals from 50 yards or greater is both a school and a Pac-10 record. He holds the record for most field goals from 50 yards or more (20), and 40 yards or more (39). His school records include most points scored (328), most games with two or more field goals (20), field goals (63), and PATs(139). In addition to his placekicking duties he also punted, and was named as an All-American in his junior year (thanks Wikipedia).
Little Brother: Travis Hanson, kicker, UW - Played from 1990-1993 and was solid, but never considered spectacular. Certainly never approached his brother's level. He made 35 career field goals, a little more than half of Jason's total. But Travis was the kicker on that great '91 UW team, so, he does have some hardware on a team level that Jason never received. Quick word of advice - DON'T GOOGLE for an image of Travis Hanson. Apparently there is another Travis Hanson out there that I don't think many of you would like to see. Well, OK, maybe SOME of you would like to see it. Not that there's anything wrong with that. But just a word of warning. Anyway, EDGE - BIG BROTHER.

2) The Bledsoe Brothers
Big Brother: Drew Bledsoe, QB, WSU
- Does it really need to be rehashed? One of the greatest players in school history, regardless of position, Bledsoe's junior year was one of the best ever at WSU. In 28 career starts he established WSU records in single-game passing yards (476), single-season pass completions (241), and at the time, single-season passing yards (3,246). Bledsoe was named Pacific-10 Conference Player of the Year as a junior and was the number-one draft pick in the NFL in 1993. A long, storied professional career who made his mark on the NFL passing record book, going to four Pro Bowls, including the youngest Pro Bowl starter ever at age 22, and twice was named All-Pro, the highest NFL honor one can achieve outside of being named MVP of the league. He even started in the Super Bowl. When Bledsoe retired in April 2007, he left fifth in NFL history in pass attempts (6,717) and completions (3,839), seventh in passing yards (44,611), and 13th in touchdown passes (251). Just a fantastic NFL career.
Little brother: Adam Bledsoe, QB, Colorado: He was once a well-hyped QB recruit out of Walla Walla. A big kid with a strong arm, Boulder was teaming with excitement when Bledsoe decided to be a Buffalo.....but I think they are STILL waiting for him to make a play. Young Bledsoe never really did anything in his time at Colorado, a career backup QB who ultimately transferred to Western Oregon in the summer of 2000, his senior year. EDGE - BIG BROTHER.

3) The Leaf Brothers
Ryan Leaf, QB, WSU
- Like Bledsoe, a WSU legend. Unlike Bledsoe, an NFL disaster. A disaster so bad that they are still in production of the Ryan Leaf story.....

But I digress. People just need to take one look at 1997 to realize what a special QB Ryan Leaf was at the collegiate level. He averaged 330 yards per game and threw a then-Pac-10-record 33 TD passes that season. WSU's offense had school records in the following categories:

64 TD's
483 points
Almost 6,000 yards of total offense (5922) in 12 games
Average of 493 yards of O per game.

Leaf threw for 3968 yards that year and was responsible for 40 TD's either passing or rushing, also school records. They were an offensive machine, riding Leaf's arm all the way to a 10-win season, a Pac-10 title and Rose Bowl bid vs. Michigan. We know how that game worked out, and like a golfer looking for a ball hopelessly lost in knee-deep rough, WSU Nation is STILL out there looking for two more seconds....but hey, when you get invited to NYC for the Heisman presentation and you finish 3rd in the voting behind Charles Woodson and Peyton Manning, you are pretty damn special.
Little brother: Brady Leaf, QB, Oregon - There was major disappointment in the Palouse when Brady went Green-n-Gold. I count myself among many who questioned the decision, and watched with hope that he would come to Pullman. Wouldn't it be great to get Leaf's little brother? Wouldn't it be cool to watch him grow and evolve running the SAME OFFENSE his big brother ran at WSU!? The hype alone of having another big, strong-armed QB with the last name of Leaf running the show at WSU could sell a few season tickets, couldn't it? Well, Brady wasn't exactly Ryan, and has now hung up the helmet after a rather undistinguished career at Oregon. Now Brady did have some bright spots, but he was pretty up-and-down. And he largely played in Dennis Dixon's shadow. Once Chip Kelly showed up with his spread read-option offense for Leaf's senior year, he was the epitome of fish-out-of-water. But what's weird is how good Brady Leaf did against WSU. In two career games against the Cougs, Leaf went 28-for-44 for 361 yards and three TD's, including a furious second half comeback in 2006 that fell short.

I have to admit.....I STILL wonder how Brady Leaf would have worked in Pullman. Maybe Brady beats out Alex Brink? There is very little doubt that Leaf had the skill-set to excel in a one-back, spread-em-out passing offense. Maybe he is the one little brother who got away. Oh well. EDGE: BIG BROTHER.

So there you have it. At least in the WSU universe, the older brother has topped the little brother, and by a pretty wide margin. Who knows what happens with Desmond Trufant. But as a WSU fan, you can probably chill a little bit knowing that he will be in purple-n-gold.

Speaking of purple-n-gold, there are some UW examples here as well. Damon Huard was better than Brock Huard, and clearly better than Luke Huard, who kicked around North Carolina before giving it up. Marques Tuiasosopo is an all-timer at UW, but what about the other Tui's who came after him? Not even close. I'm sure there are others, but we really don't CARE, do we??

ENJOY YOUR WEDNESDAY, and GO COUGS!

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

Jon Brockman won the pu sports star of the year? never mind Tim Lincecum won the FREAKING CY YOUNG. Or Taylor Mays the three-time Rose Bowl champ and all-american. Brokcman has been all conference twice. BIG DEAL. What a terrible paper.

Anonymous said...

Good trends on the older brother scenarios. I would not bet on Trufant III becoming Marcus redux but you never know. I will take the under on his so-called ceiling.

The PI sucks (sorry go-2-guys). A leading rebounder from a team that couldnt beat Valpo at home in the nobody gives shit tournmanet is better than Lincecum? What a disgrace. One can argue that Kyle Weaver was better than Brockman last year, leading his team in all those categories and to the sweet 16.

BornCoug said...

I never had the feeling that Desmond Trufant was going to come to WSU. It seemed like WSU might have been a backup plan for him. I admit it stings a bit to see him head to the UW though. I have heard he really is not in the class of Marcus Trufant as a corner an may project more to safety.

Don't forget Rien and Devan Long. WSU wanted Devan but he to didn't want to follow in his brothers footsteps at WSU. He had a nice career at Oregon. Going further back, weren't there Lynch brothers?

Sedihawk said...

Borncoug, GREAT CALL on Rien and Devan Long! Damn, I completely missed them. I knew there was one or two other brother combo's, even from that era, but I couldn't exactly remember. But it is a great call. Devan did have a nice career at Oregon. In fact, of all the "little" brothers, he might have been the best of the bunch. Not quite an award-winning all-american defensive tackle like big brother, but a pretty good career at Oregon.

And the Pi, YIKES. Look, Brockman is an outstanding college player and is their all-time leading rebounder. But how does he win that thing? Maybe they penalize Lincecum for winning the highest pitching honor in the big leagues because he's only "from here", and pitching in San Fran? But anonymous is right, Kyle Weaver has every right to be in the argument. Weaver is an all-timer in points, steals, assists, etc, basically WSU's all-time "Scottie Pippen", and he led them to the sweet 16. I must have missed UW's deep run in the tourney last year?

And speaking of Taylor Mays, why, exactly, did he return to school? The guy is already hits like a truck and has been all-everything. Why not go pro? What, does he need to work on how to put guys in the morgue, not just the hospital? Amazing.

Draft Dodger said...

Good read. The baby bro angle is interesting and with a wsu flavor. But what about other failed brothers?

Ken Griffey > Craig Griffey
Jose Canseco > Ozzie Canseco (younger twin)
Jason Giambi > Jeremy Giambi
Peyton Manning > Eli Manning (but Eli earned a stripe last year)
Bill Clinton > Roger Clinton
Jimmy Carter > Billy Carter (debatable?)

You see it all the time. Big bro makes it big, little bro can't live up.

Hooty McBoob said...

Of course there are exceptions. I make more scratch and have a hotter wife than my big brother...

Nuss said...

How about these three?

Hamza Abdullah: Drafted in seventh round, eventually made 8 starts with the Broncos in 2007 before being cut this year and being signed by Cleveland.

Husain Abdullah: Captain in 2007, all-Pac-10 honorable mention, Pac-10 player of the week, as an undrafted free agent played in 16 games this year with Minnesota, recording 20 tackles.

EDGE: Little Bro, although a strong argument could be made for big bro.
---
Ray Jackson: Good all-around defensive player.

Chris Jackson: Made THE CATCH in the 1997 Apple Cup, part of the famed Fab Five, one of the greatest Arena Football League players of all time.

EDGE: Little Bro.
---
Vaughn Lesuma: Started more than 24 out of 25 games at left tackle in his WSU career.

Reed Lesuma: Part-time offensive lineman.

EDGE: Big Bro.

Sedihawk said...

Hooty, sorry I left you out of this. CLEARLY YOU ARE SUPERIOR TO YOUR BIG BROTHER. Except for the hair department. Can't win 'em all. :)

Nuss, good points. The angle I was fishing for was more about WSU greats and how their little brothers fared when they went elsewhere. That's why the Rien/Devin Long comp was so good and one I whiffed on. But it is interesting.

Wow, Ozzie Canseco? That's a stretch. What is he, like 10 minutes younger? But I hear he's still striking out four times a game, somewhere. Craig Griffey too, talk about a gift from the M's to even draft him. He was a pretty good DB at Ohio State, and he could run, but that's about it.

TiltingRight said...

I think in addition to the rebellious "be my own person" angle, these youngsters already have a big shadow to live up to. There's added pressure living up to that shadow AT THE SAME SCHOOL.

I had the same feeling re: Desmond heading elsewhere, just didn't imagine it being the UW. Uggh.

Wish he was a Coug, but still wish him well, even as a Husky... I just threw up in my mouth a little.

Hooty McBoob said...

Off the subject and maybe I'm late to the party on this but I jus read on ESPN.com that "Washington State WR Brandon Gibson left this morning's practice with what appeared to be a hamstring injury. It's unlikely he'll return"

"That's a bummer, man."
- The Dude