by Tawni Ricketts, Daily Vidette Sports Editor

Colton Underwood was born with the blood of a Redbird. As the son of Scott and Donna Underwood, both of whom attended ISU and participated in Redbird athletics, the junior knew where he wanted to end up.

Underwood followed directly in his father’s footsteps, which ultimately led him to his current role as a defensive end for the Illinois State football team.

Scott Underwood served as a defensive end for the Redbirds from

1986-89, while Donna Underwood played on the ISU volleyball team from

1986-90.

“My high school coach played here too, so I had a lot of ties to

Illinois State, but I wasn’t going to let that affect my decision [to

attend college at ISU] fully,” Colton Underwood said.

While initially recruited under the former ISU coaching staff,

Underwood continued pursuing other college options, which included

Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) schools Illinois, Iowa and Wisconsin.

“[When] the new coaching staff came in I came here for a camp, and I

just fell in love with the school and fell in love with the coaching

staff and what they stood for and that’s basically what made my decision

[to attend ISU],” Colton Underwood said.

“We let Colton make that choice as to where he wanted to go, and we

all thought [ISU] was the best school for him,” Scott Underwood said.

“So I was really happy he made that choice, but he did make it on his

own. He’s made us really proud … He’s turned into a whole lot better

football player than I ever was.”

However, Underwood didn’t carry on the family legacy alone. His

younger brother, redshirt freshman Connor Underwood, serves as a

linebacker for the Indiana State Sycamores — a fellow Missouri Valley

Football Conference team, whom Illinois State will play on Saturday.

The meeting of the teams will mark the first time the Underwood brothers have played on the same field since 2010.

“I didn’t get to see him play for three years because I was [at ISU]

and he was in high school, and then he red-shirted [his freshman year

at Indiana State],” Colton Underwood explained. “I went [two weeks ago]

to watch him play Western, but we haven’t played with each other since

high school.”

Having coached both of his sons from their junior football years

through both of their high school careers, Scott Underwood is accustomed

to making every one of his sons’ games. However, since the two now

attend different colleges, he is faced with the challenge of balancing

two different game schedules.

“We have a pretty big family, so somebody from our family is always

at one of their games, but it’s weird for me because it’s the first time

I’ve ever missed either one of them play football. But it’s also a good

problem to have,” Scott Underwood said.

“It’s great that they’re both doing so well, and they’re both

starting. We’ve actually made it even — I’ve seen the same amount of

Colton’s games as I’ve seen of Connor’s games this year. It’s just a lot

of traveling and a lot of running around, but it is well worth it.”

Despite holding positions on the defensive side of the game, Colton

Underwood and his father both recorded a touchdown apiece.

“My grandma and grandpa like to tell his stories a lot,” Colton

Underwood said. “He had an interception, and he got in the end zone and

they had to bring him oxygen — all of the players piled up on him.

There’s a nice picture my grandma always shows to me of him with an oxygen mask on,” he said, laughing.

But while Colton, like his father, has seen success on the gridiron,

Scott Underwood recognizes that the fondest memories are the ones that

go beyond what happens on the field.

“I keep telling both of the boys it’s the friendships they’re making

on the field right now that are the memories that they’ll keep

forever,” he said.         

“It’s incredible the friendships you make while you’re playing a sport like football that’s so tough on your body and everything — you have to count on those guys, and I think that’s probably my favorite memory.”

Colton Underwood currently heads the team in second place in overall

defense, with 78 total tackles on the season, including 16.5 tackles

for loss and 8.5 sacks.

“It [was] great to be able to spend time [coaching] [Colton and

Connor] and to see them develop and grow into the young men they are and

the football players they are,” Scott Underwood said. “I am very

proud.”

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