They arrived on Utah’s campus this past summer as the Kuithe Twins, an intertwined package of offensive and defensive football players. And then they were separated, one emerging as a potential star in the Pac-12 and the other dealing with another round of rehabilitation.
The Kuithes are fraternal twins, although they look more alike than the average brothers. Blake, a defensive end, is taller and heavier than Brant, a tight end who starred as a high school running back. The twins grew up near Houston in Katy, Texas, offering Class 6A high school football competition, amid a nice, suburban lifestyle (there’s even a monthly, 180-page Katy Magazine) that Brant described as “a bubble.”
They’ve moved away from home, still living together and experiencing college football in divergent ways in the past two months. Brant is thriving in Utah’s offense as one of four true freshmen who play regularly; Blake is sidelined for the season. This mother’s dilemma is deftly addressed by Debbie Kuithe: “I’m pretty capable of celebrating one and trying to support the other.”
NO. 16 UTAH AT ARIZONA STATE
When • Saturday, 2 p.m. MDT
TV • Pac-12 Networks
The Kuithe (pronounced “KEY-thee”) family experienced this last season, only the pain was doubled and evenly distributed. The twins were injured a few minutes apart during a late October game for Cinco Ranch High School, keeping them out of the playoffs. It happened again to one of them; in August; planting his foot on Utah’s artificial turf practice field, Blake tore the ACL in his right knee, 10 months after injuring his left knee.
“Being 1,200 miles away, it’s the worst,” Debbie Kuithe said. “It was hard enough when they left home. Of course, with twins, that’s what happens, right?”
So his parents attend to Blake from a distance; one of them talks to him daily, offering support. “It’s kind of hard to explain going through it twice,” Blake said. “Even going through it once, just the mental effect it has on people — it just kind of broke me a little bit. It’s a recovery process, that’s for sure.”
So while his brother practices, he spends weekday afternoons in the training room. Brant's success on the field has encouraged Blake. “I'm extremely excited to watch him play on game days,” he said, “whether that's from the field or in my living room.”
The twins, who have a sister seven years older, have distinct personalities. “I'm the more talkative one,” Brant said, although recent interviews suggest that Blake is more engaging in that context.
As the boys grew up, this was their mother's constant reminder: “It's not a competition.” Nice try. They competed in everything, from quiz scores to having the coolest shoes to getting the best haircuts.
The Kuithes' story is a classic tale of brothers who are always there for each other — too close, at times. In a Katy Magazine profile of the three sets of twins on Cinco Ranch’s 2017 team (another pair played in 2016), Brant said, “It can be annoying. He’s always in my personal space. There’s not a time when I can be somewhere without him.”
Yet the bonds were illustrated on the video screen of NRG Stadium in Houston during a 2016 playoff game. Friendswood players were shown mistreating Brant in the bottom of a pile. “It was on, after that,” recalled their father, Dennis. Blake “punished their quarterback.”
Each had several Big 12 offers, although their plan to stick together somewhat reduced their options. They were committed to Rice University, a hometown Group of Five program with elite academics, before coach David Bailiff was fired in late November. Utah’s Morgan Scalley had kept recruiting them, and they committed to the Utes in January.
Joining another freshman, Cole Fotheringham, Brant Kuithe has given Utah a receiving threat at tight end. He ranks fourth on the team with 11 receptions, including some memorable plays: a touchdown catch in the season opener vs. Weber State, a grab at Stanford just before halftime to set up a field goal and a 30-yard reception vs. USC.
Asked about his impact, Kuithe said, “I didn't expect it, but I hoped for it, so it's going well so far. … Toward the end of camp, I saw it as an opportunity to put myself in a role, and I did it.”
“Brant brings a lot of athleticism,” said Utah tight ends coach Freddie Whittingham. “He can really run. He is not as big [as Fotheringham], but when you put him in that two-tight end set, he is the wing and we can move and flex him out with that option. He has incredible ball skills downfield.”
Dennis Kuithe, who played at North Texas in the 1980s as an undersized tight end, recognizes Brant's potential. “He's a matchup nightmare, man,” he said.
That will become even more true in the coming years if Brant keep growing and retains his speed as a former prep sprinter. His father labels him “a football savant,” understanding routes and coverages from his time as a quarterback, working with former University of Houston star David Klingler.
Blake may have redshirted this season, anyway, considering Utah’s defensive line depth. His injury ensured that the twins will have different timetables in college football, with Brant’s eligibility concluding in 2021 and Blake having another season to play. Based on that forecast, they would be apart for the first time in 22 years. That would mean more space, but less support.
Freshman tight end Brant Kuithe ranks fourth in receptions for Utah this season:
Britain Covey – 48 for 531 yards, one touchdown.
Samson Nacua – 21 for 238 yards, two touchdowns.
Demari Simpkins – 15 for 214 yards, two touchdowns.
Brant Kuithe – 11 for 139 yards, one touchdown.
Jaylen Dixon – 10 for 250 yards.