Football

Husker defensive line coach John Parrella (left) works with twins Carlos (96) and Khalil Davis during practice Tuesday at Hawks Championship Center.

GWYNETH ROBERTS/Journal Star

"Hey, Khalil," the reporter said. Friendly greeting.

"I'm Carlos," the player said. Friendly reply.

Shoulder shrug. This happens all the time with the twins, and yet they keep smiling because they're always smiling.

New Husker defensive line coach John Parrella is still not always certain which brother is which. "He's having a hard time right now," said Carlos Davis, smiling, his bro Khalil doing his own interviews 5 feet away, smiling.

Carlos and Khalil. Khalil and Carlos.

"They seem to group us together," Carlos said of everyone. "But we're used to it. Even as kids, when one would get in trouble, we'd both get in trouble."

Now the redshirt freshmen defensive tackles from Blue Springs, Missouri, are on a mission to create double trouble for offenses at the college level.

That doesn't mean there isn't some goofiness displayed along the way. Senior defensive tackle Kevin Maurice looks over at the two brothers, laughs. How would he describe them? "Silly as s---."

He quickly adds the important part: "They're going to be real good. They're up for the challenge. They bring a whole bunch of athleticism to the game. Quick as hell. They're going to be a real big asset for us."

Maurice said you could tell last summer, the twins' first summer on campus, that "these guys are going to be good."

They've only gotten stronger.

Carlos arrived around 265 pounds. He's around 300 now. Khalil arrived around 260. He's around 290 now.

Khalil recently was named the Husker Power Athlete of the Year. He squatted 485 pounds 10 times while locking up that award.

"Now it’s just a matter of us getting the scheme absorbed in them. … Because we know they're athletic people," Husker defensive coordinator Mark Banker said. "We're counting on them heavily. We knew that would be the case going into the season."

Banker saw the twins doing interviews.

"You got to kind of lasso them in a bit. Just looking at them now, they have grins on their faces. They're supposed to be serious, but they’re like that all the time," the coach added. "They’ve got great personalities, they've got big personalities. We just got to keep them hemmed up a little bit. Nothing bad or anything like that, but make sure they stay on the straight and narrow."

Both seem to like their new position coach, Parrella.

Khalil recounts one of Parrella's challenges to him: "Nebraska defensive linemen have to be more than good. Be great."

Carlos describes Parrella as a coach who will get you fired up. Passionate. "He has that in him, so that's what I like."

Carlos knows the pushing from Parrella has only started.

"He's not going to let us be lazy at anything. He always says, 'Get 2 percent better every day.' So that's what we're trying to do."

Carlos almost played a season ago. Coaches mentioned it publicly a couple of times during the season. "It got real close," Carlos said.

He kind of wanted to play then. He's glad he redshirted now.

"I'm a different person now," he said. "I learned a lot taking that year off."

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Both want to keep improving their technique.

"I'm used to going and trying to make every tackle," Carlos said. "Here, you got to learn your assignment first."

The brothers have also been competing in the shot put for the Huskers during the indoor track and field season.

They were used to finishing 1-2 in every meet in high school. That doesn't happen when you're a freshman in college. When they made their college throwing debuts, Khalil finished third, Carlos seventh.

"One thing I learned that helped me with football is when I came here I wasn't the big dog anymore. I had to start all over," Khalil said.

He points out that even though he and his brother didn't have the biggest shot put marks this year, they were setting personal records each week.

Getting better. That's the 2 percent Parrella is talking about.

They're needed this fall. Maliek Collins and Vincent Valentine are gone. Reps are there to be had.

"I see great possibility for me to contribute to this team and just be a big factor," Carlos said.

Same goes for that guy he's been playing football next to since the second grade.

So continues the push to be great. Not good. Great. Still plenty of room to go to be big dogs again.

They'll learn together.

"It's an unbreakable bond, I can tell you that," Carlos said. "There's some times when he'll do something and then I'll react, not even knowing it. We're just kind of in sync."

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