When Davison Igbinosun was growing up, he always envisioned playing alongside his brother, Desmond, in college. On Saturday, the two will be on opposing sidelines when Ohio State travels to take on Rutgers (6-2).
A Union, New Jersey native, Igbinosun was once committed to following in his brother’s footsteps at Rutgers, calling it “all I knew.” Having grown up less than 30 miles from the university, Igbinosun attended several Rutgers games, and the path to playing for the program was clear to him at one point.
However, as Igbinosun saw his recruitment take off, the allure of playing in the SEC ultimately led him to sign with Ole Miss ahead of last season. After just one season there, Igbinosun entered the transfer portal and landed at Ohio State, where he’s started every game for the top-ranked team in the country.
While he’s already been tested this season in pivotal wins at Notre Dame and against Penn State, Saturday will be another big one for a different reason.
“It’s definitely exciting. It’s a dream come true,” Igbinosun said on Wednesday of playing against his brother. “I expect a big turnout of family members.”
Desmond, now a junior, has started the past seven games at safety for Rutgers and leads the team in tackles for loss. A talented player in his own right, Davison credits Desmond for helping him to become the player he is today.
“He’s helped me the most out of anybody. I would credit my skills to him if I’m being honest,” Davison said.
Specifically, Davison said Desmond, who is an inch taller and 15 pounds heavier, forced him to find a different way to compete against his older brother. “He made me work on the technical aspect of my game because he was stronger than me,” Davison said.
The two have stayed in touch this week, as Davison said they do most weeks, but the conversations have remained mostly about life rather than their matchup on Saturday. Speaking with Rutgers reporters this week, Desmond said the two often dreamed of playing in big games down the line, and he’s happy the two are realizing that dream, even if it’s for different teams.
“Did we know it would shake out like this? Not quite, but we always talked about playing in big games, so I’m excited because he’s playing in big games, and I know he’s excited for me because we’re playing a big game,” Desmond said.
Although the two won’t be on the field together on Saturday, that didn’t stop Davison from making a declaration on Wednesday. Asked who wins in a one-on-one matchup between the two, a scenario that played out plenty as the two progressed through middle and high school, Davison said, without pause, “I do.”
Playing against his brother will undoubtedly bring an added level of importance to the game for Davison, although he may be the last player who needs any extra juice on the field. Davison has drawn attention this year for the energy and emotion he brings with every snap, which he said has always been how he approaches the game.
“I only know how to be me,” he said. “I just love playing football. That’s how I express myself.”
Reach Dillon Davis at 740-413-0904. Follow him on Twitter @DillonDavis56.