From cousins to brothers

While seniors Justin and Daniel Sorensen both came from different high schools (not to mention different states) and star at two different positions, they do have something in common that's banded them closer together over the years. The two wear the white and blue of BYU, and that has allowed them to build a relationship that's more like brothers rather than cousins.

One day back in 2008, two cousins were offered scholarships to come play football at BYU. Justin Sorensen was a highly touted kicker, while Daniel Sorensen was a defensive specialist.

"Well, you go back to the day when we both got our scholarship offers, and it was like, 'Hey, we would like to extend a scholarship to come to BYU, and just so you know, we're calling your cousin right after this,'" recalled Justin. "It was like, 'Oh, okay, who do I talk to? I'm committed and ready to go.'"

While Justin grew up in South Jordan, Utah and played football at Bingham High School, Daniel grew up in the talent-rich Inland Empire area of Colton, California and played for Colton High School.

"Danny and I would see each other once a year at that point just because he's from California and me from here," said Justin. "But in that week when we would see each other we were brothers. It was like no time had passed. And so to have the chance to come here now, I mean, downstairs we have our lockers right next to each other. You know, it's been a blast."

While they were close cousins before, Justin said his relationship with Daniel has changed since they both came to BYU.

"Oh, it's totally changed," said Justin with a smile. "Like I said, we were like brothers before, but, you know, we never had to live together and put up with each other – you know, really find out how each other's personalities work. To be here, to not just be us even but to be with all the guys our age and on the team, brought us really close. He's helped me a lot get through hard times and vice versa. We've enjoyed it."

In seven games so far this season, Daniel is fourth on the Cougar defense in total tackles. He's had a very productive senior season, recording nine pass breakups and even hauling in two interceptions as a safety. Whenever Daniel gets an interception, Justin shares in the joy of his success. But then, as close family members often do, that moment is often accompanied with a funny or facetious comment.

"Well, at first I get super excited and then I try to think of some sarcastic comment when he comes off, like, 'You know, Thanks! You didn't score a touchdown, so I don't get to kick an extra point. Real cool,'" Justin said with a smile. "Or something like, 'Well, I guess you don't care about me as much.' No, to see him have success is great because I know how much it means to him. So, I love it when he does well.

"To see him do as well as he's done, especially because he ... I can't think of anyone who works harder. I mean, everything he does in his life, you know, it's how he eats, it's how he works out, it's when he wakes up, it's everything and it kind of revolves around football. Watching him be successful has been great."

But the clever ribbing between the two doesn't just flow one way. When Justin kicks a long field goal or makes some other great play on special teams, Daniel is right there to give him a little added pressure. It's his way of returning the banter.

"He gets excited when I make a play," said a smiling Justin. "When it's a tight game he'll always come up to me and say, 'Hey, you better pull through today, you know?' We have a good relationship."

While Daniel may tease Justin, it's really a gesture of support. When Justin has struggled with accuracy, the one person that can lift his spirits is Daniel.

"He's one of the only guys that can say something to me and I'm going to feel better about it," said an admiring Justin. "He'll tell me what's up, you know? If I miss one he'll be like, 'Hey, let's go! We need the next one.' You know, it's a touchy subject obviously and people don't want to come and be like, 'Hey, that was terrible!' But, you know, if he did, I'd respect it. You know, very few people could say that [and] I'd be fine with it. With him, it's all good. I don't know. We have such a good understanding that nothing he ever says is really negative."

With Daniel's special teams play and defensive prowess at the safety position, there are some rumblings that NFL scouts are taking a hard look at him. However, what about Justin? Is playing in the NFL a desire of his as well?

"I mean, yeah, I would love to take the chance," said Justin. "Obviously, it would be a really fun experience, and I think I could do well at it. But, you know, we'll see how that goes when we get there, but Danny's going to go into the NFL. He's the man. He loves football too much and he really wants to be there with his brother [San Diego Charger quarterback Brad Sorensen]. Hopefully, he'll get the chance."

Hopefully they both will have that opportunity. It would be great to see the two Sorensen boys who came to BYU as cousins leave BYU as brothers and head onto the next big stage of their lives.


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