‘Bigger and better’ than the Utes? Samson Nacua explains his support of his USC-bound brother

Utah has the Barton brothers in the starting lineup and added the Kuithe twins from Texas.

(Photo courtesy of Sarah Shebek, University of Utah) | Utah receiver Samson Nacua celebrates with teammate after scoring touchdown for the White team in Utah's Red-White spring game Saturday.

Samson Nacua's endorsement of his favorite high school football player included his tweeted analysis that the Orem star was on his way to “bigger and better things than Utah schools.”

The evaluation proved accurate this summer, when receiver Puka Nacua committed to USC. The only flaw of Samson Nacua’s commentary is he’s a scholarship athlete for the University of Utah — one of those schools he judged as smaller and worse than USC, applying that logic.

Oh, brother.

The Ute receiver would have some explaining to do. “Everyone was thinking that I didn’t want to be here, that I thought our team was horrible,” Nacua said last week, as Utah began preseason practice. “But I could never speak about my team like that.”

Nacua said he just wanted to express support for his brother, a four-star recruit who's ranked No. 2 in the Utah class of 2019 by 247Sports, behind East defensive lineman Siaki Ika. “I was trying to build him up,” he said. “Even though he's a big star right now, I'm still trying to get him bigger than I am, always.”

Nacua hopes Utah performs so well this season in the fight with USC for the Pac-12 South title that his brother, who caught 87 passes for 1,692 yards and 24 touchdowns as a junior, will change his mind and join him in Salt Lake City. Samson Nacua made 29 receptions for 294 yards last season as a redshirt freshman.

The Utes feature the Barton brothers of Salt Lake City — Jackson is an offensive tackle, Cody is a linebacker — as seniors in the starting lineup. They’ve added the Kuithe twins, freshmen from Texas (Blake is a defensive end, Brant is a tight end). The Kuithes, who were among three sets of twins on their Cinco Ranch High School team, had planned to play together at Rice before the Owls made a coaching change. They committed to Utah on the same day in January.

(Chris Detrick | The Salt Lake Tribune) Orem's Puka Nacua poses for a portrait Friday, December 15, 2017.

But the Utes can’t expect to sign everybody and their brothers. Johnny Capra, a fourth-year junior who’s competing for a starting spot, next season will be one of three family members from northern California playing as Pac-12 offensive linemen. Utah offered scholarships to Jacob Capra, who’s contending for playing time at Oregon, and Joey Capra, a high school senior who recently committed to the Ducks, switching from Arizona State.

“Selfishly, everyone wants their brothers to come play with them, but at the end of the day, I want my brothers to be happy,” Johnny Capra said. “I was excited to see them being offered the same opportunities that I was, and they had the unique opportunity of having someone to talk to in me, in that I had already gone through the process and I was able to counsel them and give them advice.”

The Utes will host Oregon in November, but an on-field reunion of all three Capra brothers in 2019 could come only in the Pac-12 championship game, due to the conference’s scheduling rotation. Javelin Guidry, Utah’s nickel back, will meet his brother Elisha in October when the Utes play at UCLA.

The Nacua brothers are projected to take the field in Los Angeles next season, when the Utes visit USC. Samson Nacua and his brother Kai, a star defensive back, were on opposing sides of the Utah-BYU game in 2016, when Samson was redshirting after joining the Utes from Timpview High School in Provo.