Travis and Tevin Homer, brothers three years apart in age, were not on the same football team growing up.
Except for one brief stint four years ago.
Travis, a high school freshman, was called up to Park Vista’s varsity team late in the season. Tevin, a senior, didn’t take it easy on him.
In true big brother fashion, Tevin and his older teammates razzed the young running back for the high jersey number he was assigned — No. 98 — calling him “Nueve Ocho.”
Travis, now a freshman wearing No. 24, was one of the top recruits in UM’s signing class. But like Tevin, a senior defensive back wearing No. 25, Travis mostly plays on special teams at this point in his career. That’s where the Boynton Beach brothers are most likely to tangle on Saturday.
“They both want each other to do well, but they both want to get in the game and take each other’s head off,” said their mother, Karri Valot, punctuating the thought with a boys-will-be-boys laugh.
Tevin, 21, was a hard-hitting defensive back at Park Vista and played two years at FCS Arkansas Baptist before transferring to FAU before last season. Travis, 18, who is three inches shorter (5-11) but weighs the same (195 pounds) as his brother, left Park Vista as a sophomore and became a standout at upstart Oxbridge Academy. As a senior, when he rushed for 1,315 yards and 11 touchdowns, was ranked as high as No. 6 nationally at his position by 247Sports.
They are two of the 32 players from Palm Beach County on the two rosters. The Boca Raton-based Owls have 24, including seven listed as starters. The Hurricanes have eight and three who start, including Travis’ roommate, freshman wide receiver Ahmmon Richards of Wellington High.
UM offensive coordinator Thomas Brown, who coaches running backs, said Travis has the potential to be a “home-run hitting tailback.” Right now, he is working behind sophomore Mark Walton and juniors Joe Yearby and Gus Edwards in a backfield that rushed for 373 yards and five touchdowns in last week’s 70-3 rout of FCS Florida A&M.
Travis played on special teams and carried the ball five times late in the game, picking up 35 yards. He also fumbled, an issue neither Brown nor his mother believes will remain.
“He said there’s always something to learn,” Valot said of her son. (Note: UM coach Mark Richt did not allow Homer and other freshmen to speak to the media this week, saying he wanted to shield them from the spotlight). “He felt good about his performance on special teams. He’s always had a good attitude about getting back up on the horse.”
Miami is favored by 23 points on Saturday, but the large contingent of family and friends — neatly split between the home and away sides of the field — will be happy regardless of the outcome.
“We’re all really excited. Our family doesn’t care who wins. We want both of them to do well. We want both teams to do well,” Valot said.
“It would be nice if they would go up against each other, because that’s what they want. If it happens, that’ll be fun to watch.”