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Brothers in Pads: Louisville football’s recent siblings

Here, we reflect on some brothers that played at Louisville.

NCAA Football: Eastern Kentucky at Louisville
Jawon Pass, along with brother Khane, are among many brothers that have both played for Louisville football.
Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

Siblings competing together — or more often, against each other — isn’t an uncommon occurrence in any sport. John and Jim Harbaugh coached against each other in Super Bowl 47 in 2013. Serena and Venus Williams have been a fixture in women’s tennis for over 20 years, winning a combined 30 Grand Slam singles and 28 doubles titles. The Klitschko brothers both earned world heavyweight titles in boxing and defended it multiple times during their illustrious careers.

With Dez and Christian Fitzpatrick set to compete as teammates in the 2020 season, Louisville football will have brothers on the team together once again. So we’ll take a look at some of the other siblings that have played for Louisville football in recent memory.

The Brohm’s

The Brohm’s have been a staple of both the university and city’s athletics since Oscar suited up for the Cardinals in the late 1960s.

Fast forward to the late 1980s and early 1990s, and Oscar’s sons, Jeff and Greg, joined their father in playing for the Cardinals. Greg played from 1989-1992 and ended his career with 45 receptions for 722 yards and four touchdowns, while brother Jeff played quarterback for the Cardinals.

Jeff enjoyed a productive career as the starting quarterback, completing 56% of his passes for 5,451 yards, 38 touchdowns, and 28 interceptions. His final season (1993) was one of the best in school history at the time, completing 61% of his passes for 2,626 yards, 20 touchdowns, nine interceptions, and named MVP of the 1993 Liberty Bowl.

Another brother, Brian, played for Louisville from 2004-2007, while Jeff was an assistant coach under both Bobby Petrino and Steve Kragthorpe. The pairing was a key part of Louisville teams that won two conference titles, two bowl games (including Brian being named MVP of the 2007 Orange Bowl), and finished in the top ten of the final Top 25 poll in both 2004 and 2006 during that span.

Under the tutelage of his older brother, Brian Brohm became one of the most prolific quarterbacks in program history, finishing with 10,775 yards, 71 touchdowns to just 24 interceptions, and completed 65.8% of his passes.

As of today, both Brian and Jeff are top ten all-time in the school’s career passing yards (second and ninth, respectively), touchdowns (fourth and t-7th), and passer rating (second and ninth).

The Sharp’s

While Jeff was coaching younger brother Brian at quarterback, the mid-2000s saw another pair of brothers anchor the defensive side of the ball.

Antoine and Brandon Sharp played together in the secondary during the mid-2000s. After starting his college career as a wide receiver at Florida, Antoine transferred to Louisville in 2003 and joined his brother on the defense. Antoine ended up playing in 23 career games for the Cardinals (2004-05) with two career interceptions and four PBUs, then transitioned to a career as a strength and conditioning coach.

Brandon Sharp also had a productive career as a four-year player for Louisville. The younger brother played in 46 games from 2003-06 with 120 career combined tackles, 3.0 sacks, and two interceptions. Like Antoine, Brandon also pursued a career in coaching, and is currently the defensive backs coach at Florida A&M.

The Buchanan’s

While Ray and Bobby Buchanan did not play together at Louisville, they did end up on the same path in college.

“Big Play” Ray is regarded as one of the best players in program history, recording 15 career interceptions and becoming a two-time All-American defensive back in 1991 & 1992. He was also named defensive MVP of the 1991 Fiesta Bowl, with five tackles and a blocked punt recovery in the end zone for a touchdown (capping off a 25-point first quarter for Louisville).

After being drafted in the third round by the Indianapolis Colts in 1993, Ray Buchanan would go on to play 12 seasons in the NFL. “Big Play” Ray continued to shine in the pros, becoming a two-time All-Pro (1994 & 1998) and a starter on the 1998 Atlanta Falcons squad that made it to Super Bowl XXXIII. Ray Buchanan’s NFL career stats include 47 interceptions, four pick sixes, and 823 career tackles.

Younger brother Bobby appeared in 44 career games for Louisville from 2005-2008, making appearances at both cornerback and safety as he tallied 137 career tackles, one sack, and three PBUs.

The Heyman’s

Two of the more underrated Louisville players in recent memory are the Heyman brothers, Earl and Dexter (along with some of my personal favorites as a younger Louisville fan back then, but I digress).

Earl came to Louisville as one of the highest-rated recruits in program history, the 111th overall prospect in the 2005 class. He finished with 112 career tackles (19 for loss), 8.5 sacks, two defensive touchdowns, and an interception in 48 games played.

After a brief stint in the NFL which saw him earn a Super Bowl ring with the New Orleans Saints, Earl transitioned to a career in boxing, where he won multiple championships including the Heavyweight Golden Gloves title in Indiana.

As for younger brother Dexter, he played as a linebacker for the Cardinals from 2008-11. Dexter finished his career with 156 career tackles (24 for loss), with seven sacks and three interceptions. Heyman also earned All-Big East Second Team honors in 2011 (90 total tackles w/16 for loss, 4.5 sacks, three interceptions and a forced fumble), leading a defense that finished 23rd in total yards per game that season.

The Pass’s

We’ve seen brothers at Louisville usually share the same position, or at least the same side of the ball. Jeff and Brian Brohm were quarterbacks (and Greg a wide receiver), Dez and Christian Fitzpatrick are both receivers, and both Antoine and Brandon Sharp played in the secondary during some of Louisville’s most successful seasons.

But what about a situation where one plays quarterback, and the other plays safety (a position that, ironically, is supposed to intercept the ball from the quarterback among other things)? That’s what Louisville has had from 2016 up to the present day, with both Khane and Jawon Pass.

Khane was a three-year starter at safety from 2016-19, recording 191 career tackles (8.5 for loss), five PBUs, an interception, and a fumble return touchdown in the 2019 Music City Bowl.

Jawon had a rough 2018 season, completing 54% of his passes for 1,960 yards with eight touchdowns and 12 interceptions. He started the first two games of the 2019 season and managed to complete 52% of his passes with six total touchdowns and one interception, before a right toe injury ultimately ended his junior season. He enters the 2020 season as the likely backup quarterback behind Micale Cunningham.

The Leffew’s

If Khane and Jawon Pass wasn’t an intriguing enough brother tandem as safety and quarterback, how about brothers who were on the offensive and defensive line?

During the mid-2000s, Bobby and Travis Leffew were some of the most important pieces on Louisville teams that were consistently reaching bowl games. Bobby made 32 starts as a defensive tackle from 2001-04, recording 132 career tackles (28 for loss) with 12.5 sacks, and earned Freshman All-American honors in 2001.

Travis Leffew remains one of the most dominant offensive linemen in program history, making 50 straight starts in his four-year run from 2002-05. He was a third-team All-American in 2004, as well as a two-time all-conference first team selection in 2004 (Conference USA) and 2005 (Big East).