SALT LAKE CITY — Dave and Joe Kruger are more than just brothers.
The siblings, who are just over two years apart in age, are roommates, teammates and starters along the same side of Utah's highly successful defensive line. Dave is a 6-foot-5, 300-pound tackle and Joe is a 6-foot-7, 280-pound end.
"We're counting on them. They're a big part of our defense and both of them have played good football for us in the past," said Utah coach Kyle Whittingham. "David will be graduating after this year and so this is a chance for them to really enjoy playing next to each other."
It's something the Kruger brothers certainly aren't taking for granted.
"I'm just going to try and cherish it this year and make the most of it," said Joe, who acknowledged that not a lot of guys in college football get to play alongside their brother.
"It's great. It's been awesome playing with David. He's taught me a lot since I've been a freshman. He helps me out on the field when I do something wrong or anything like that," Joe added. "So it's just been nice having a brother out here. We're always together. We're really close. So it's been fun."
Dave also appreciates the situation.
"It's a big deal. I love playing with Joe," he said while noting that things get competitive out on the field. The brothers constantly talk about getting sacks. It's a common goal they share, along with overpowering opposing offensive lines.
"They push each other in practice. They push each other in the weight room. Everything they do, they push each other," Whittingham said. "They're almost like twins. When one's not around the other one is kind of lost. That's the way they are. They're very close."
The Krugers are a close-knit family, Whittingham explained, and that's good to say. They're extremely supportive of one another.
Utah defensive line coach Chad Kauha'aha'a said Dave and Joe have formed an "extremely special bond" and a strong one at that.
"When I first got here I tried separating them — just to even them out and get them to know other people," Kauha'aha'a said with a laugh. "It was a big mistake on my part because Joe is so tight with David. Those guys are inseparable."
When David wasn't feeling well and missed a morning practice in preseason camp, Kauha'aha'a noted that Joe was like a "lost puppy" without him.
"He just kind of had puppy eyes and was like 'Oh my gosh, where's my brother?" Kauha'aha'a said.
Things changed, however, when David returned in the afternoon.
"And all of a sudden here comes Joe Kruger," Kauha'aha'a continued. "So they've got that close bond. That love is there. They're inseparable."
Dave and Joe live at their older brother Paul's house in Millcreek. While the former Ute continues his NFL career with the Baltimore Ravens, Dave and Joe are gearing up for their third and final season as teammates at Utah.
"It has dawned on me," said Dave, who also enjoyed playing with Joe for a season at Timpanogos High School. "It was an awesome experience. It's fun to play with your younger brother."
They hype each other up, Dave said, and work hard to make big plays.
The brothers have made a big impact with the Utes.
Dave has 86 career tackles, including 9.5 stops behind the line of scrimmage and three sacks. He's played in 38 games with 27 starts since redshirting in 2008 when he was a teammate with Paul.
Joe, who wound up finishing his high school career at Pleasant Grove, jumped right into the mix in 2010. The junior has 39 career tackles at Utah. He has six tackles-for-loss and three sacks over 26 games and seven starts.
"They bring a lot to the table. I'm glad I get to coach these guys," Kauha'aha'a said. "They're a pleasure to coach . . . I'm glad to have both of them."
UTAH CAMP REPORT
Day 13: A single practice Thursday morning at Ute Field. Camp concludes with a double day Friday and a scrimmage on Saturday.4 comments on this story
Standouts: Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said sophomore safety Terrell Reese is one of the most improved guys in fall camp. Defensive tackle Viliseni Fauonuku and wide receiver Geoff Norwood also drew praise.
Injuries: Quarterback Jordan Wynn was held out with a tired arm for precautionary reasons. Whittingham said five to six guys were sidelined early in practice because of minor injuries. None, however, were deemed serious.
Overheard: "If we played today, he'd be fine to go." — Whittingham on Wynn.