Big East

WVU Football: A Band of Brothers

June 30, 2016

Dana Holgorsen has always been proud of the family-type atmosphere he’s developed during his five seasons running the Mountaineer football program.

His father, Steve, has been a fixture on the sidelines at practices and at games, and his son, Logan, can often be found tossing footballs on the sidelines during practices.

Well, that family atmosphere has also grown to include Holgorsen’s current football roster, which features five sets of brothers this year, tying Iowa for the most of any Division I program in the country, according to research done by New Mexico State assistant media relation director Cari Gold.

That’s one more than Texas currently has and two more than Michigan State, Minnesota and Central Florida.

Six other programs have two sets of brothers on the same team.

If you include assistant coach Ja’Juan Seider, a former Mountaineer quarterback, and his baby brother Ja’HSaun, that makes six brothers in one football program.

Who knows, perhaps there could be even more on the way?

Talk about a band of brothers!

“It’s pretty cool that we have a bunch of brothers here,” said junior wide receiver Ka’Raun White, whose younger brother Kyzir was one of the most coveted junior college safety prospects in the country last winter. The two played together in high school and also at Lackawanna Junior College.

“We’re going to push each other to be great and keep competing with other players on the team,” White said. “One of us might mess up or something and I will look at Kyzir and nod my head and be like, ‘Let’s go.’ That’s kind of our signal to step up and do what we’re supposed to do. That’s pretty cool.”

It’s also pretty cool that both are really good players – and playing together in college. Older brother Kevin, now playing for the Chicago Bears, may have started the White family tree at West Virginia University, but Ka’Raun says even if Kevin didn’t clear a path to Morgantown he probably would have ended up here anyway.

“I think I would still be here even if Kevin wasn’t here because West Virginia is such a great offense, especially for a receiver,” he said. “As far as Kyzir, I played a big role in him coming here, but he loved the coaches and he loved the players, so the odds were in West Virginia’s favor after he took his visit and got to really talk to the coaches about the position. Me being here was a great help.”

Seider, one of the coaches assigned with the task of acquiring these so-called “legacy recruits,” admits getting outstanding prospects with WVU family ties is always a top priority for the coaching staff.

When your program has been as successful as West Virginia has been through the years, it makes getting those legacies a whole lot easier, much like it once was at Penn State when five different Collins brothers from Cinnaminson, New Jersey, played for the Nittany Lions, although not all at one time.

West Virginia hasn’t had five from one family yet, just five different pairs, but perhaps one day that will happen, too.

“We’re in a Power 5 Conference and we’re the 14th winningest program of all-time,” Seider noted. “Getting kids like that who really see the big picture and say ‘this is a great place to be … if it’s good enough for my brother to be successful then it’s good enough for me.’”

White admits there are many benefits to having a brother in the same locker room or sharing an apartment together on campus. Since they will be competing against each other during practice (Ka’Raun is a wide receiver and Kyzir is a defensive back) they can also compare notes, give each other tips or discover tendencies.

“Whenever he’s like ‘oh, I’m hurting’ or ‘do the workouts get any easier?’ We just talk about everything,” Ka’Raun said. “He says he loves his coach. The players are cool and they’re trying to help him out as far as learning the defense. It’s not like he has to learn on his own or wait until camp starts to learn the defensive scheme. He loves it here and I love it here.”

Plus, when Ka’Raun or anyone else hears something coming from their brother, they know what they’re hearing is real.

Sometimes, in the case of the Seider brothers, it may be a little too real. Ja’Juan is always going to give it to his little brother straight – no sugar coating, just the unvarnished truth.

“I’ve told him, ‘Don’t get too comfortable because you’ve got a house you can come to and hang out. Get your butt over there and work out and do the extra stuff!’” the elder Seider said. “Him being a freshman he’s in a situation where he’s got to be ready to go. You’re backing up T.O. (center Tyler Orlosky). If something happens we need somebody to go in there and snap the ball. That’s part of it. But it’s also good to have your younger brother up here because he gets to be around his nieces and nephews.”

The downside?

Sometimes things can get a little confusing, such as is the case with the Adams twins or even the White brothers, despite Kyzir being slightly bigger than Ka’Raun and playing a different position.

“They’ve called me Kyzir a few times now. I’m like, ‘That’s not my name,’” Ka’Raun laughed. “But I don’t mind it. I know what they mean. My mom does the same thing. She calls me everything … ‘Kevin, Kyzir and Ka’Raun.’ It’s cool. I just answer, because I know what they mean.”

It’s been pretty cool for Ja’Juan having his baby brother up here, too.

“I was gone when he was growing up, so being up here together will be an adjustment. It’s been an adjustment for him because I’m harder on him than he thought I was going to be.

“But who can you trust more than your brother?”

Indeed, a band of brothers.

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