Atkins brothers -- 1 from Miami, the other FSU -- set to face off
MIAMI (AP) -- They used to battle outside their home for hours, two massive young men manhandling one another while playing marathon games of 1-on-1 basketball.
It was brother vs. brother.
And pride was the only stake.
"No doubt, it would get heated from time to time," Dumaka Atkins, the younger of the two, said in a telephone interview last week. "It was fun, but it was competition and it'd be tough. But then we'd realize that we were brothers for life and that was more important than anything."
On Monday night, the brothers were set to go head-to-head again. Only this time, it wouldn't be outside their Sarasota home, but inside the Orange Bowl, with more than 70,000 spectators watching No. 11 Florida State at No. 12 Miami.
Dumaka Atkins is an offensive lineman for Florida State. Older brother Baraka Atkins is a defensive lineman for Miami.
"We're going to go hard against each other," Baraka Atkins said. "I'm expecting him to give me his best and I know he's expecting the same from me. We're definitely competitive in all that we do. We're on opposing teams, but definitely, we're a family first."
Outside of those 1-on-1 hoop games, the Atkins brothers haven't truly been sports rivals -- until now. They were teammates all the way from Little League to Sarasota Booker High. Both were in uniform for last season's 10-7 Florida State victory over Miami, but only Baraka saw playing time.
This year, that'll almost certainly change.
"It really is a blessing for our family," said their father, Sarasota Mayor Fredd "Glossie" Atkins.
Dumaka, at 6-foot-4 and 310 pounds, is Florida State's second-string center, yet someone who the Seminole coaching staff expects to get plenty of game action. Baraka, who stands the same height yet 35 pounds lighter than his brother, is a standout defensive lineman for the Hurricanes, someone expected to be snapped up in next year's NFL draft.
When it came time to choose colleges, Baraka -- who grew up a Florida State fan -- signed with Miami, in part because the Seminoles didn't seem all that interested in his services. Dumaka -- a Miami fan growing up, just to bother his brother -- went with Florida State.
"We recruited Dumaka some, and I think it just boiled to him thinking Florida State might be the best place for him to go," Miami coach Larry Coker said.
And ever since Dumaka made that decision, the family has known this day was inevitable.
"I've definitely been looking forward to this," Baraka Atkins said. "Since the day he signed, I've been hearing it from family and my teammates and his teammates. We've definitely been waiting for this day."
The size edge goes to Dumaka, who was expected to rotate with John Frady at center for the Seminoles. The experience edge goes to Baraka, who has 14 career sacks, tops among all returning Hurricanes.
Plus, Baraka's leadership edge is duly noted around the Miami program; he was selected as a captain for the 2006 season.
"He has a tremendous family and has great family support," Coker said. "Also, he's a very smart player. ... He's a team player, and beyond that, he has ability, too."
Most of the family planned to be at the Orange Bowl for the matchup; the brothers spent most of the past week trying to collect as many tickets as they could grab to accommodate the relatives, friends and former coaches who'll make the trip to Miami.
And the Atkins clan will be in distinctive, one-of-a-kind attire.
No Miami gear. No Florida State gear. Instead, they'll clearly be supporting both sides.
"My sisters, they make up these T-shirts every year, a mixture of garnet and gold and orange and green," Dumaka said. "They look forward to that. This has been a long time coming, for all of us."
(Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)