Josh Imatorbhebhe sat watching with his parents in Orange County as USC took on No. 4 Washington. The freshman receiver didn’t travel with the team, but it might have seemed like his teammates could hear him three states away.
Every time Josh’s older brother, Daniel Imatorbhebhe, caught a pass, the Imatorbhebhe household erupted in cheers. They had plenty to cheer about as Daniel set career highs with five catches for 78 yards and scored on an 8-yard touchdown pass from Sam Darnold. Josh couldn’t contain his excitement, but he wasn’t the only one.
“[My parents] were super happy too. You could barely hear what was going on because they're always screaming because he was getting catches and stuff, so it was great. It was a really, really, really happy feeling.”
Watching Daniel this season has been a unique experience for Josh. Daniel began the year with just one catch in the first four games. He has followed that with a touchdown catch in four of the last five games.
“Oh it's been amazing. Literally, there's nobody happier for him than me,” Josh said. “Sometimes I feel like when I'm around him, I have to like hold it in because I don't want him to feel like I'm a fan or anything because he's my brother and I've grown up with him for like the last 18 years of my life, but oh my gosh, I'm so happy.
“Sometimes I almost get to tears to see how good my brother is doing because I know it's been a struggle for him. It was an uphill battle for him getting here. I don't feel like he was ranked as high as he should be. Honestly, he was one of the best tight ends I've ever seen in high school. It's just that maybe he was a little undersized.
“I'm glad that the process that he went through was able to produce what he's able to do right now, so I'm happy for him.”
That process included Daniel redshirting last year after transferring from Florida where he only spent a semester as an early enrollee. Instead, after Josh committed to be a Trojan, the Suwanee (Ga.) North Gwinnett brothers reconnected in Southern California where they had lived early in their childhood before the family moved to the Southeast.
This season, it is Josh going through a redshirt season with USC having six upperclassmen receivers.
“At first, it's a humbling process because every freshman wants to come in and contribute and make contributions to the team early,” Josh said. “Once you accept reality, then you just work to get better every single day. You start getting more enamored with the process as opposed to trying to make strides every day. Just make steps every day. Once you understand that and you accept it, you're allowed to get better and better every day.”
His focus is on learning the playbook and improving every day, but he’s learned from that group of older receivers that he can’t be too serious. To play your best, you can’t be uptight.
“I think the people that are best at what they do have fun and they find a way to make it fun. JuJu [Smith-Schuster] always has a smile on his face. DRog [Darreus Rogers] is always laughing and joking. Just to not take it too seriously.
“Take it seriously obviously because jobs are on the line and I want to get to the next level, but not so seriously where I put a lot of pressure on myself, so I won't be able to perform at my peak.”
Watch Josh Imatorbhebhe, above, talk about the difficulties of sitting out a year during the redshirting process, how the young receiver group is coming along and the value of family, including big brother Daniel's breakout season.
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