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BYU football: BYU-Oregon State means family reunion for twin brothers Uani and Feti 'Unga

Published: Tuesday, Oct. 9 2012 8:01 p.m. MDT

BYU's Uani Unga, right, hauls down Utah State quarterback Chuckie Keeton last Friday.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

PROVO — Twin brothers Uani and Feti 'Unga grew up playing football together.

This weekend, they'll play against each other for the first time.

Uani 'Unga, a junior, is BYU's backup middle linebacker, and Feti 'Unga, a senior, is Oregon State's starting middle linebacker. They both wear No. 41. And their teams collide Saturday (1:30 p.m. MT, ABC) at LaVell Edwards Stadium.

Any brotherly banter going on this week in anticipation of the big game?

"He hasn't said anything," Uani said Monday with a smile. "I try to throw it out there and try to get a little argument going, but he hasn't said anything."

Uani actually started his college career at Oregon State before transferring to BYU prior to the 2011 season. On Saturday, not only is Uani facing his twin brother, but also his former teammates and coaches. Among his friends on the OSU team is Beaver star wide receiver Markus Wheaton.

"It feels a little weird, but it feels good," Uani said of facing Oregon State. "I mean, I've got love for all my boys back there."

Uani said he's glad to see that OSU, ranked No. 10 in the nation, is unbeaten at this stage of the season after posting a disappointing 3-9 record last year.

"I watch them every week. It's nice to see them doing good," he said. "I was surprised that they struggled last year. Then to see them come back, I was kind of expecting it. I know (quarterback) Sean Mannion from his first year, he redshirted. I remembered him being on scout offense and he was doing great. I felt like he needed a year maybe to build up. He's showing how he's getting things done."

On Monday, however, Oregon State coach Mike Riley announced that Mannion is out with a knee injury and will miss Saturday's game. But Uani knows that the Beavers will be tough to beat, even without Mannion. OSU's defense, led by defensive coordinator Mark Banker, is No. 4 in the nation in rushing defense.

"Coach Banker is a great guy," Unga said. "He knows his defense and he knows how to work. I'm not surprised by how his defense is doing this year."

'Unga enjoyed his time in Corvallis, Ore., playing for Banker and Riley. But his decision to transfer to BYU was a family matter. His life changed after he and his wife Lachelle, an Orem native, got married.

"Being at school and practice kept me away from home 13 hours in a day," he explained. "My wife got pregnant and we kind of figured we'd move closer to her family so they could help out and I could go to school and do football and focus there and not have to worry about my immediate family."

Uani said "it's hard to say" if there are negative feelings at OSU about his decision to transfer to BYU.

"I would think there would be, but knowing coach Riley, he's a different guy," Unga said. "I couldn't see him being mad at anybody. He's a good guy. A lot of players go there because of him. He knows how to treat players."

Uani said there's not a lot of differences between BYU and Oregon State, other than there are more Polynesians and Mormons in Provo.

"They have a nice program up there," he said of OSU. "The coaches are really good. I thought some of the coaches were members of the (LDS) Church because of the way they coach and are strong in their own churches."

Uani and Feti, who grew up in California but finished their high schools careers at Kahuku High in Hawaii, arrived in Corvallis together after their missions. Uani served in Guatemala, and Feti served in Chile.

When BYU played at Oregon State last October, Uani traveled from Provo to Corvallis, paying his own way, to watch his brother. Uani could not play for the Cougars last season due to NCAA transfer rules.

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