Continued from page 1

That’s the kind of stuff Trufant has had to do his whole career, playing bigger than he appears _ definitely a guy after Leonhard’s heart.

“He might not look the part, but he’s a football player,” said Leonhard, who at 5-8 faced similar challenges early in his career. “It’s great to see people like that that some teams would just look at height and weight and say, ‘We’ll cross you off the list.’ Rex has done that his whole career, giving guys shots.”

After a solid college career, Trufant played for Spokane, Kansas City and Arizona in the AFL before going to the UFL in 2009. He won two UFL championships with the Las Vegas Locomotives, and was selected as the league’s defensive MVP last fall. Trufant had a league-record four interceptions, including one in three consecutive games, along with 30 tackles and a fumble recovery.

That performance earned Trufant a shot with the Jets late last season, and he made his NFL debut in the regular-season finale against Buffalo. But he was waived in January and then had to wait out the lockout to see what the next step in his football journey would be.

“It’s pretty tough, just the reality of it,” said Trufant, who has one son and another on the way. “You’ve really got to hold onto your money because you never really know what could come from week to week, and having a family, that also takes a toll.”

Trufant has had several conversations with his brother Marcus, a former first-round pick in his ninth NFL season who has encouraged him to keep pursuing his dream no matter the circumstances. Performances like the one he had Sunday might finally allow him to call the NFL home.

“It has definitely been crazy, but I’m just riding the wave,” Trufant said. “I’m just trying to do what I can to stay active and be prepared for whatever I need to do. I’m ready for anything.”