Hours before Utah quarterback Tyler Huntley rolled out to his right and tossed his fourth touchdown pass of the night vs. USC in front of 46,000-plus fans in a sold-out Rice-Eccles Stadium, his brother made a touchdown reception that gave his team a lead over Presentation College.
How many fans cheered Samuel Huntley's catch in Iowa? Two hundred and twelve.
The Huntleys will play college football again this weekend in contrasting venues. Tyler will quarterback No. 23 Utah vs. UCLA in the famed Rose Bowl; Samuel will join his Waldorf University teammates at Dakota State's Trojan Field in Madison, S.D.
The brothers, who played together as Hallandale High School seniors in south Florida in 2015, hardly could have taken more divergent paths to college. Even so, Tyler Huntley said, “Football is football.”
NO. 23 UTAH AT UCLA
When • Friday, 8:30 p.m. MDT
TV • ESPN
Knowing his brother performs unnoticed, by comparison, the Ute QB said, “Playing is enough to motivate me. I don’t care if we play in front of big crowds or not. [Samuel] does a good job of going out there and just playing.”
The Waldorf Warriors, competing in the North Star Athletic Association at the NAIA level, play on a campus of 2,200 students at a liberal arts school with Lutheran roots in a town of about 4,000 residents. Forest City, just off Interstate 35, is known as the Winnebago manufacturing headquarters and for being about 120 miles equidistant from Des Moines, Iowa, and Minneapolis. The lifestyle is described as a classic, country existence amid the cornfields, with the nearest semi-big town (Mason City) located 30 miles away.
The second and third sons of Ricky and Regina Huntley are living in vastly different places, performing in varying strata of collegiate athletics. Yet they have much in common. Each wears No. 1 and produced the best game of his college career Saturday. Tyler passed for 341 yards in a 41-28 win over USC; Samuel caught eight passes for 85 yards in a 44-38 loss to Presentation.
“Thankfully, each one of them is doing well in school,” Ricky Huntley said. “They both like what they're doing. They're having fun, enjoying college, and they're getting their education.”
A multisport athlete and musician, Samuel Huntley is 18 months older than his brother. In elementary school, their parents chose to place him in the same grade as Tyler. The brothers played on different youth teams, though, and got together only in their senior year of high school football.
Ute receiver Demari Simpkins, a Hallandale teammate of the Huntley brothers and Ute running back Zack Moss, described Samuel as “competitive, just like Tyler.”
Simpkins added, “He was a really good player. It’s just that he played one [varsity] year, so he couldn’t get the offers that everybody else had, but he had great hands, ran really good routes. He wasn’t as fast as some of us, but he was really good.”
Hallandale was loaded with future FBS receivers. Samuel earned considerable playing time, once catching two touchdown passes from his brother in a game. In February 2016, when Tyler Huntley and Simpkins already were enrolled at Utah after graduating early, Moss and Samuel Huntley were among 20 Hallandale players who signed with four-year schools.
Five of those Chargers chose Waldorf (NAIA schools can offer athletic scholarships), where the program’s previous coaching staff had a Florida connection. The current staff maintained that pipeline, having established a good reputation. The Warriors' 2018 roster includes 30 players from Florida, including a Hallandale Foursome — topping Utah’s Hallandale Trio.
Told about the school’s Florida imports, a Waldorf soccer alumnus from Midvale audibly shuddered, remembering a morning when the nearby Subway marquee read minus-20 degrees and walking 75 yards from a dorm to a classroom building was daunting. Even in early October, Samuel Huntley was mentioning the weather in a call home.
Crowd size varies for the brothers, and so does their levels of media interaction. Over the past month, Samuel Huntley did not respond to multiple requests regarding this story. His brother regularly does interviews, although sometimes reluctantly. Utah coach Kyle Whittingham always has required his starting quarterback to attend Monday news conferences during the season. Tyler Huntley cooperates, but he’s eager to exit as soon as possible.
That’s just part of the job for Huntley, whose most memorable quote in two seasons came after a win at then-No. 14 Stanford in early October. He didn’t even sit down before defiantly asking reporters what they thought about his receivers — having heard all of the criticism of them in September.
Otherwise, his words are few and generally bland. “He's coming around,” his father said. “He's getting better at it. We know he has it in him, but he's a very humble guy. He doesn't do all the showboating.”
On the field, Huntley is having a fabulous October. In three Pac-12 wins, he has completed 76 percent of his passes for 741 yards and seven touchdowns, plus two scores by rushing and one by receiving.
The media get only a glimpse of the personality that coaches and teammates endorse. “He’s a very serious kid about football,” said Utah offensive coordinator Troy Taylor, who coaches the quarterbacks. “He loves the game, takes it personally. He’s one of those kids that if we lose a game, he’s blaming himself, regardless of what the situation was. He’s a caring kid, got a big heart. You can tell he loves football. He plays with a lot of passion.”
He even catches touchdown passes. So does his older brother, only on a much different stage.
The contrasting football programs of the Huntley brothers:
Metro population: 1.1 million.
Level of football: NCAA Power Five.
Stadium capacity: 45,807.
2018 attendance average: 46,425.
Team record: 5-2 (3-2 Pac-12).
School: Waldorf; Forest City, Iowa.
County population: 10,587.
Level of football: NAIA.
Stadium capacity: 1,200.
2018 attendance average: 431.
Team record: 3-5 (3-2 NSAA)