COLUMBIA — Hickman defensive back Kyle Asbury missed the tackle.
It was only practice — and while it isn't a positive event, not bringing down the running back is usually not a big deal.
Except when the running back happens to be your younger brother.
“The whole team was like, ‘Ooooh, you missed your little brother,’” Asbury said. “It was like, whoa, he’s at my level now. I’m not the big, older brother anymore.”
Ryan Asbury was a sophomore when he joined his older brother, a junior at the time, on the varsity football team in 2008. Ryan Asbury said there were benefits of having a familiar face around during his early transition to the varsity level.
“The coaches already knew the Asbury name, so it helped me a little bit with the coaches,” Ryan Asbury said. “If I didn’t know something or what we were doing, I could just look at him (Kyle) and ask.”
Kyle Asbury, a senior this year, said he helped his brother be in the right places at the right times and learn the correct lifts in the weight room. He said his brother was a quick learner.
“Once I got him going, he really didn’t need me anymore,” he said. “I was there where he needed it.”
Kyle Asbury has viewed his brother as his equal ever since that missed tackle. While the two might have similar levels of talent on the field, they are distinctly different.
Coach Jason Wright said he notices the differences between the brothers. Kyle Asbury is loud and jovial; Ryan Asbury is quiet and serious. The older brother is a jokester; the younger one is reserved. Kyle Asbury makes tackles; Ryan Asbury breaks tackles. The characteristic that ties them together is competitiveness.
“One thing they have in common is both of them love to compete, I mean really love to get after it and compete,” Wright said.
Ryan Asbury said the two have been battling against one another since he can remember. When asked about the first time he beat his older brother, a smirk crept over the corner of Ryan Asbury’s mouth.
“We used to play basketball on our front driveway, and it would get competitive,” the younger brother said. “We would always push each other, and he would bully me around a little bit. I beat him once and I always hold it against him.”
Even as a junior in high school, Ryan Asbury looked around before claiming to be the better athlete of the two. He made sure his older brother was not within ear shot before answering.
The brothers say some people misinterpret the constant competition between them. Although they give each other a hard time at every opportunity on the football field — whether it’s Kyle telling Ryan he needs to be running harder or Ryan telling Kyle to hit a little bit harder — each says the other makes him a better player.
“Our coaches see and are like, ‘You guys are mean to each other,’” Kyle Asbury said. “We’re not really the love-brother relationship that you see, but we care about each other. We just don’t show it that way.”
The pair’s competitiveness comes out in different forms on the football field. The older Asbury would rather run through somebody, but the younger Asbury prefers to run around defenders.
Both are having an impact on the field for the Kewpies. Wright said Kyle Asbury has averaged more than 10 tackles in the past five games. Ryan Asbury’s playmaking ability has emerged over the past month. And while Wright said Kyle Asbury would be missed after he graduates, he is excited to see the little brother’s potential produce more results in 2010.
The brothers are both being treated for leg injuries as they prepare for their last two games on the schedule. After playing on football teams together since they were 7 and 8 years old, they want to be ready for the last two times they will be on the same field.
“That’s how my dad feels too, that this is the last time he can see us both play on the same field again,” Kyle Asbury said. “It’ll be sad after it’s all over. We just have to cherish these last couple weeks and play ball.”