National

Brothers look to lead California to bowl game for 2nd straight year

CORRECTION: In a previous version of this article, the University of California’s team name was misstated. California is the Golden Bears. The Daily Orange regrets this error.

Growing up, Keenan Allen and Zach Maynard were just like any other pair of brothers. The two loved to compete with one another.

Whether they were playing against each other or just comparing stats, the half brothers embodied a sibling rivalry. But they also loved playing together.

“We had a lot of fun growing up together,” Allen said. “Just throwing each other the ball, seeing each other going to the end zone. It was definitely fun to be on the same team.”

Three years after Maynard’s high school career came to an end, Allen and Maynard were reunited on the football field for California in the 2011 season and led the Golden Bears to a bowl game. Now in their second season together, the duo has thrived thus far and both have established potentially NFL-worthy resumes.

After playing together for two seasons at Grimsley High School in Greensboro, N.C., Maynard graduated and the lightly recruited dual-threat quarterback headed to Buffalo.

Two years later, after transferring to Northern Guilford High School, also in Greensboro, Allen experienced a much different type of recruitment than his brother’s, though one inextricably tied to it.

The top-ranked safety and No. 5 overall recruit according to Rivals.com, Allen originally committed to play for eventual national champion Alabama in November of his senior year. But three months later, after the Crimson Tide had already rolled to its 14th national championship, Allen’s recruitment was once again up in the air.

On Dec. 13, 2009, former Bulls head coach Turner Gill was announced as the new head coach at Kansas. Rather than wait out the new regime in Buffalo, Maynard decided to transfer. With the possibility of playing with his brother now a real possibility, Allen reopened his recruitment to make the brothers a package deal.

“I didn’t think it was possible for him to transfer from Buffalo,” Allen said. “But the opportunity came around and we just took it.”

Alabama made Maynard a scholarship offer. But on Feb. 3, 2010, Maynard and Allen simultaneously committed to California, bringing an end to Allen’s long, complex recruitment.

Maynard was forced to sit out a year, while Allen had a modest 490-yard season as he transitioned to being a full-time wide receiver and the Golden Bears stumbled to a 5-7 record.

The next season was like high school all over again.

Maynard was named the starting quarterback before the season and he, Allen and California all reaped the benefits. Maynard threw for 2,990 yards and 17 touchdowns, while Allen hauled in 98 catches for 1,343 yards and six touchdowns as the Golden Bears went 7-6 and reached the Holiday Bowl.

“Having that brotherly connection, that bloodline connection, we know when we look at each other how to make adjustments,” Maynard said during a conference call on Wednesday. “We just look at each other and know exactly what we want to do.”

The duo’s tight-knit relationship gives them an inherent benefit on the football field and in the locker room. As much as their familiarity helps, having one another to lean on and push the other is the real benefit.

“They’re around each other a lot and have thrown the ball to each other quite a bit, and I think Zach definitely has a lot of confidence in Keenan,” California head coach Jeff Tedford said during a conference call on Tuesday. “And I think they rely on each other to push one another, to motivate one another from their relationship as being brothers.”

Most of the time their connection on offense comes more from a long history of playing football together, rather than their relationship as brothers, but sometimes instincts take over.

Quarterbacks and wide receivers all throughout college football share the familiarity that Maynard and Allen have with each other, but the relationship between the Golden Bears quarterback and wide receiver transcends the football field.

“Sometimes he’ll roll out, and before he rolls out, I already know he’s about to roll out and I’ll roll out with him,” Allen said. “Just break off my route and go the same way he goes, and we’ll connect downfield somewhere.”

But just as much fun as they have out there on the football field together, brothers still get mad at each other. Allen and Maynard are no exception.

“We get mad, you know, every day,” Maynard said with a laugh. “You only get mad at players individually because your expectation is so high for them, you expect them to do great things.”

But more often than not, they’re helping each other out. When one makes mistakes, the other is there to talk him through things. And when things go right, they’re there to encourage each other.

Having a talented sibling to either receive the ball from, in Allen’s case, or throw the ball to, in Maynard’s case, also helps them.

And that’s something Maynard appreciates. He knows his brother’s a star, and it’s definitely something he’s grateful for on the field.

“He helps me a lot. He’s one of the best wide receivers in the country, if not the best.

“Of course,” Maynard added, “I am biased.”

Game of the Week

No. 20 Michigan State vs. No. 14 Ohio State

Ohio State’s offense has been inconsistent this season, but Braxton Miller has lifted the Buckeyes late in games and still they sit at 4-0.

Ultimately, though, this game means more to Michigan State. Ohio State isn’t bowl eligible this season, but a Spartans victory would give them a marquee win over a conference foe.

With Michigan and Nebraska both struggling early this season and the Leaders division down overall, Michigan State would become the overwhelming favorite to represent the Big Ten in a Bowl Championship Series bowl with a victory.

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