Colquitt brothers to be on opposite sidelines
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP)
It was the summer of 2005, and two punters on the University of Tennessee roster were horsing around before practice
The senior-to-be drove one decent shot through the air, followed by a slight misfire. That uneven effort prompted then-Vols coach Phil Fullmer to give his redshirt freshman a look.
The youngster's first attempt was a laser beam with no hang time, but about 50 yards in distance. Then, in almost instant-replay fashion, a second misfire occurred, just like the veteran incumbent had done moments earlier.
Fullmer was incredulous, blaring, ''What are you guys from the same mother or something?''
Well, actually they were. These were the Colquitts, Dustin and Britton.
Looking back now, that pre-practice frivolity marks the only time the siblings have even come close to competing against one another in their chosen athletic specialty .
Prod. Push. Teach. Cajole. Those always were more regular occurrences between the brothers.
But until Sunday, the two never had been measured against each other statistically in competition. They'll get to do it in an NFL game, when Dustin's Kansas City Chiefs visit Britton's Denver Broncos at Invesco Field.
''There's going to be a lot of competition,'' said Broncos special teams coach Mike Priefer, who coaches Britton now and previously spent three years overseeing Dustin's development with the Chiefs. ''They're both very prideful young men and it's going to mean a lot to them. And the cool thing is it's going to be twice a year for the next few years to come.''
Nearly a year ago, the two Colquitts were in the same and very different places.
Dustin was deep within his fifth season as Chiefs punter. But his younger brother was contemplating his uncertain future after Denver had let him go after training camp
Britton opted to live with his brother and his family outside Kansas City. He helped around the house, including baby-sitting three children; in return, he received room, board and the encouragement to keep his pro dream alive.
''I told him, in the NFL it's very rare for a punter to come in and have a job and keep going,'' said Dustin, who's done just that through a six-year stint with the Chiefs. ''He knew when you're an undrafted free agent like that, anything can happen. And so he just kept a positive attitude.''
Britton would in his spare time work out and kick at a local high school field, sometimes with his older brother in tow. There, he got accustomed to battling the swirling winds and unpredictable weather.
''My brother knew the talent that I had,'' Britton said. ''He was like, 'Dude, I've seen you kick' and he'd always say you're ahead of me at my age. Keep working at it. He wanted me (to live with him) because he knew that was a period where he wanted me to focus on the football part and not just, 'What do I do now?'''
A tryout with Cleveland and a weeklong stint on the Miami practice squad eventually would materialize for Britton before Denver offered him a place on its active roster last December. It had been the Broncos that had sent Colquitt into this uncertain journey to begin with by cutting him at the end of the 2009 training camp.
''Like a lot of young football players he wasn't mature enough to make that next step,'' Priefer said. ''And I think he'd be the first one who'd say that and agree with that. He's grown up a lot since a year ago.''
Britton Colquitt now has a slight edge on his brother in the current statistical rankings, rating 14th with a 44.4 gross (37.5 net); Dustin's 17th at 43.9 (37.5).
And their eventual pairing also was predestined to some degree.
Britton and Dustin's father, Craig, also a punter, was a two-time Super Bowl champion with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Their uncle, Jimmy, punted in 1995 for the Seattle Seahawks. Both will be on hand to see the brothers Sunday, along with mom, who already has a split jersey with both sons and their teams represented for game day.
''It's going to be cool to see that,'' said Dustin, now in his sixth year with the Chiefs. ''Obviously we have Peyton and Eli, the Manning brothers, with their father. And that's a cool thing every time they play. This one won't be as hyped up because they have the ball in their hands more. But it will be fun.''