SEATTLE – Thomas Tutogi has spent most of his life in the shadow of his big brother. Taimi has one year on him, 1 inch on him, almost 20 pounds on him, and is such a great football player that Thomas Tutogi grew up desperately trying to live up.
“I wasn’t really recruited in high school,” Thomas Tutogi said this week, “so everywhere we would go, people would say: ‘There’s Taimi Tutogi … and his little brother.’ ”
That all changed on the opening kickoff of last year’s game between the University of Washington and Arizona. Thomas Tutogi, then a sophomore linebacker at UW, was running down on the coverage unit when a 260-pounder wearing No. 31 got in his way.
The two Tutogi brothers, who had never before played a game against each other, collided … and, in a way, Thomas had finally caught up to his brother on the gridiron.
“We just kind of a stalemated,” Thomas Tutogi said this week, as the brothers prepare to do battle for what will likely be the final time.
Coming from a football family – former NFL star Junior Seau is their father’s first cousin – the Tutogi brothers were inevitably going to come together at some point as gridiron foes. It will happen again Saturday, when 20-year-old Thomas Tutogi gets another shot at Taimi Tutogi, 13 months his senior.
“We’re excited,” Thomas Tutogi said. “Both of us are excited.”
Taimi Tutogi, who plays fullback, defensive line and serves as a protector on Arizona’s punt unit, is excited this week because it could be his final chance to put his younger brother in his place.
“This game I’m going to have to live with the rest of my life,” Taimi Tutogi, an Arizona senior, said via telephone Wednesday afternoon. “It’s a lifetime of bragging rights: ‘Remember when you came down to Tucson, and I sat you down?’
“I want to knock him down and then do it again. Who knows, maybe I’ll even give him a cheap shot. Definitely, I’ll give him a little extra. But whichever way it happens, I’m going to help him up. At end of the day, he’s always going to be my brother.”
What makes Saturday’s game even more special is that this time, both brothers will be on the field for extended action.