Southeastern Louisiana sophomore defensive end Justin Douglas grew up with a twin brother. During the 2021 FCS Playoff Selection Show, he jumped up in excitement, texting his brother that they could be playing each other down in the second round of the playoffs.
That twin is JMU redshirt freshman running back Austin Douglas.
The Douglas brothers will face off in a win-or-go-home matchup Saturday afternoon for the second round. Not only is this the first time the two have played against each other in a collegiate game, but it’s also the first time JMU and SLU have played against each other as well.
“I was excited when we first found out during the selection show,” Justin said. “When we beat FAMU [Florida A&M], I finally realized that I have this opportunity to play against my brother; and talking with him, we’re talking about beating each other so it hasn’t been the typical friendly conversation we have.”
Growing up together, Justin lived with four other brothers — but said he’s closest with Austin. He mentioned how the two talk nearly everyday and grew up playing together on the same teams.
“We were always on the same team, so we’re definitely the most competitive out of the bunch,” Justin said. “It feels good to finally be in a serious moment and play against him.”
SLU head coach Frank Scelfo recruited both Justin and Austin and described them as hard workers. When talking about the players individually, Scelfo said Justin always brings a positive attitude, showing leadership skills even as a sophomore.
“Their personality is really what drew me when we were recruiting them,” Scelfo said. “They’re focus to be great is just impressive. These are the guys you want to make your program better.”
JMU redshirt senior quarterback Cole Johnson echoed nearly exact sentiments about Austin when asked the same question. Johnson’s brother Critt Johnson is a graduate offensive lineman at Albany, and while they share a similar relationship to the Douglas’, the two never played against each other.
“He’s a great, really humble guy,” Johnson said. “It’s really cool to get a chance to play against your brother, I wish I had that opportunity.”
Justin said his excitement about playing his brother hasn’t really changed his preparations for Saturday’s game, but he knows the level of family competition is there now a factor. He’s excited for the opportunity to travel up to Harrisonburg, especially since he hasn’t seen his brother in a few months with the two playing far away.
“It’s definitely brought a little excitement in the back of my head,” Justin said. “I’m preparing the same way every way, and I’m ready to go.”
Scelfo agreed he’s excited to head to Bridgeforth Stadium and that he views the game as a chance to see where his program could grow — a program Justin has a growing role in.
“We want to be in that conversation, and to do that you have to go and play in places like James Madison,” Scelfo said. “The success they’ve had, going deep into the playoffs and national championships — that’s what we want to do.”
Justin has earned 24 tackles so far this season, including two against Florida A&M during the first round. Austin has 133 rushing yards this season and 35 receiving yards. The two will be on the field at the same time throughout the game, and Justin said it wouldn’t be surprising if he tackled his brother during the game.
It may be the playoffs, but the two are excited to see what the game can bring and see each other again, playing in a different environment than before.
Contact Madison Hricik at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more football coverage, follow the sports desk on Twitter @TheBreezeSports.