Family Ties Bind Three Senior Bowl Prospects

Trufant (Steven Bisig - USA Today Sports)

Kyle Long (son of Howie), Desmond Trufant (brother of Marcus) and Arthur Brown (brother of Bryce), all of whom figure to be drafted in the first three rounds in April, don't feel the pressure of having famous family members in the NFL.

MOBILE, Ala. – What's in a name?

Plenty, if you're Kyle Long, Desmond Trufant and Arthur Brown, three of the top prospects involved in this week's Senior Bowl.

Long is the son of Pro Football Hall of Famer Howie Long and the brother of St. Louis Rams defensive end Chris Long. Trufant is the brother of Marcus Trufant, who just completed his 10th season as a cornerback for the Seattle Seahawks. Brown is the brother of Bryce Brown, who rushed for 564 yards as a rookie for the Philadelphia Eagles.

Long, a guard from Oregon, took a winding road to Mobile. Rather than stay in the family business that is football, he took his 96 mph fastball and big bat to Florida State.

"I was a big puppy dog when I was younger and I was a lot leaner," Long said at Senior Bowl media night at the USS Arizona on Monday.

Rather than blossom into a baseball star with the Seminoles, Long enjoyed too much of the good life in Tallahassee. There was too much drinking and not enough time in the classroom. In January 2009, he was arrested for driving while intoxicated. He wound up dropping out of school and returning home to get his life back on track.

Football would be the answer.

After taking some classes at a community college, Long enrolled at Saddleback College in Mission Viejo, Calif. He played defensive end in 2010 before moving to offensive tackle in 2011. He landed at Oregon for this season and, after playing left tackle in a part-time role for much of the season, he started the final four games at left guard.

His dad doesn't know much about offensive linemen – other than what it feels like to beat one for a sack – but has been an invaluable mentor.

"Not necessarily from a technical standpoint but there's also critique in regards to effort and finishing plays," Kyle Long said. "It doesn't take a genius to see when somebody finishes or doesn't finish. He's my best friend, my biggest fan, but at the same time he's my biggest teacher. He's somebody that does a great job of distinguishing between, ‘This is your dad talking,' and somebody that's trying to help you in football talking. He can flip that switch, which is great."

Long, who missed practice on Tuesday and Wednesday because of illness, said the pressure comes not from the name on the back of his jersey but from what's at stake.

"There's immense pressure on every single guy wearing a jersey in this room," said Long, an outstanding athlete who figures to be selected in the first three rounds of April's draft. "Do I feel like it's elevated sometimes? 100 percent. Are there great expectations? 100 percent. The only person I can compare myself to is me, and I try to improve on my former self every day and I feel like that's the definition of greatness."

Trufant, a cornerback from Washington, didn't see his last name as a source of pressure, either. Marcus Trufant was Seattle's first-round pick in 2003. He has 21 career interceptions and made the Pro Bowl in 2007. Another brother, Isaiah Trufant, just finished his second season as a reserve cornerback for the Jets.

"I feel like you create your own pressure," Desmond Trufant said. "You can put the pressure on yourself but I don't do that. I try to have fun and that's how I get rid of all that."

Trufant, a four-year starter and second-team All-American, is an aggressive, physical and confident defender. He entered the week considered a second-round prospect and has been outstanding at practice.

"I just want to show people that I'm elite," he said. "I'm in the Northwest. I don't feel like everybody gets to see me. Being out here with guys from all over the country – the best players, the best teams in the country – I want to show that I'm just as good or better than them. That's the point of coming here."

Arthur Brown, a highly regarded linebacker from Kansas State who has earned the respect of NFL scouts, missed the week of practice and won't play in Saturday's game because of an injured shoulder.

A five-star recruit from Wichita, Kan., Brown pursued his dream and played for Miami. He played sparingly in his first two seasons and transferred to Kansas State. In 2011, Brown and his brother, another five-star recruit who had transferred from Tennessee, played together. In 2012, Arthur Brown was named the Big 12's defensive player of the year and earned some All-American recognition as the Wildcats challenged for a national championship.

"No doubt there was a competitive environment between me and my brother," Brown said. "But everything we did, we did together. Competing can only make you better and that's something I truly believe benefited us."

Brown is considered a second- or third-round prospect. His brother was selected in the seventh round in 2012. A smiling Arthur, however, gave his brother a bit of grudging respect when asked who was the best player in high school.

"He played running back and I played linebacker, so I can't really compare the two," he said. "I will say that I did play running back in high school and he did beat me out for the spot."


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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.

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