Brothers of NFL stars hoping to make names for themselves in Hula Bowl Print
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Friday, 11 January 2008 14:56
NCAAF Headline News

 KAPOLEI, Hawaii (AP) -Keon Lattimore and Marcus Fitzgerald have been to Aloha Stadium before to cheer on and support their older brothers. Being on the sidelines is a role they know well, having grown up in the shadows of two football stars.
This time, Lattimore and Fitzgerald are the ones everybody will be watching. They're teammates for the East in the Hula Bowl on Saturday.
Lattimore, a Maryland running back, is the brother of Baltimore Ravens' All-Pro linebacker Ray Lewis. Fitzgerald, a Marshall receiver, is the brother of Arizona Cardinals' All-Pro receiver Larry Fitzgerald. Both seniors are trying to make their own mark with hopes of joining their siblings in the NFL.
``It's different,'' Lattimore said about his trip to Hawaii. ``Now, I have events to participate in, as opposed to coming and just watching my brother in the Pro Bowl. It makes you feel like you accomplished something.''
No longer are they just ``Little Ray,'' or ``Little Larry.'' They want people to remember their names not for their bloodline, but for what they've accomplished on the field.
``It gives them an opportunity to do their own thing on the stage here,'' said Illinois coach Ron Zook, who is heading the East.
Lattimore is about 25 pounds lighter than Lewis, but they look almost identical. They share the same snarl and bruising intensity on the field. Lattimore says he can also imitate the Lewis shuffle if he has to.
Other than a glowing smile and quick feet, Fitzgerald appears nothing like his older brother. At 5-foot-10, he's also 5 inches shorter than big brother.
``God didn't give me the height,'' Fitzgerald told Zook on Friday.
``God gave you what you needed or you wouldn't be here,'' Zook replied.
Fitzgerald is coming off a frustrating season and hopes to have a strong showing in the Hula Bowl. After starting his first three years, he was benched for most of this senior season as the Thundering Herd decided to rebuild with younger players.
``I have no ill feelings toward Marshall University at all,'' he said. ``The thing is, I just want to show them that they missed out on playing a good person and I definitely could've helped the team do better than 3-9 this year.''
He finished with just five catches in five games for 71 yards. He could get more than five catches this weekend with Marshall quarterback Bernard Morris on his team.
``I'm going to be in his ear every time in that huddle,'' Fitzgerald said. ``He should already know that one.''
Lewis and Larry Fitzgerald are both in Hawaii to help guide their younger brothers. They'll return in a few weeks for the Pro Bowl.
``He's not going to let me walk it alone because there's a lot that goes on and it's a business,'' Lattimore said. ``In college, you just go out there and play. You don't worry about nothing. The league is a business and he's helping with the whole transition. I'm prepared and ready for this next level.''
There are endless benefits of having a superstar brother, but there are some drawbacks.
``At times, I felt a little pressured. I think people expect me to be him,'' Fitzgerald said. ``But at the same time, that's why I went to small school so I could make a name for myself.''
The Fitzgeralds are only a couple years apart, while Lewis is nine years older than Lattimore.
So, besides being an older brother and friend, Lewis served as a father figure and mentor.
``When I was young, I couldn't understand it. It was always, 'Ray Lewis little brother this, Ray Lewis little brother that,''' Lattimore said. ``So, it was definitely hard living in his shadow. But I haven't been in his shadow for a couple years, ever since I've been at Maryland making my own name.''
Zook said it's wrong for people to compare the siblings.
``In football, everybody is different, just like your children, they're all different,'' he said.
Lattimore said the most important words of advice his brother gave came in high school. Lewis, who was already a star by then, took his brother aside and said, ``You don't have to be Ray Lewis. You don't have to follow in my footsteps. As your other brother, I'm telling you to be your own man. Be Keon Lattimore. Do what you do.''
``That was the biggest thing which really, really stood out,'' Lattimore said. ``I really appreciate him for that.''
Lattimore said he loves handling the ball and has no interest in becoming a linebacker. He notes that Lewis was also a running back until he switched to defense at the University of Miami.
Despite sharing running duties with Lance Ball, Lattimore rushed for 869 yards and an Atlantic Coast Conference-leading 13 touchdowns for the Terrapins. He ranks 14th on Maryland's career rushing yards list with 1,744 yards.
If Lattimore makes it to the NFL, there's a chance he'll face his brother one day, just like they did in the backyard.
``If that day comes, we'll have to deal with each other,'' Lattimore said. ``I know him and he knows me real well. I know he's not going to quit and he knows I'm not going to quit. I learned from the best and now he has to deal with it.''
 

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