More than 370 sets of brothers have played professional football, according to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Brothers Brad and Daniel Sorensen would like to join the uncommon fraternity this season.
Brad Sorensen, 27, is now with the San Diego Chargers as a third-string quarterback. Daniel Sorensen, younger by two years, is third on the depth chart at free safety for the Kansas City Chiefs.
Born into an athletic family in Colton, California, the Sorensen boys grew up competing against each other. Now they share the common goal of each making their respective teams, which happen to be AFC West division rivals.
Off the field, the brothers have much in common. They agree their football careers have benefited greatly from valuable lessons gained while serving as missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Also, both of their wives recently gave birth to sons. Sharing similar experiences at this point in their lives has been a blessing.
“It’s a special bond,” Brad Sorensen said. “Knowing each other, how our personalities are, knowing how we work, how to push each other it’s something special we can talk about.”
After high school, Brad Sorensen served his Mormon mission in Spain. He was fond of the culture and people, he said, but didn’t bring many converts into the LDS Church. In the process, however, he learned the meaning of perseverance.
“Spain is a wonderful country,” Brad Sorensen said. “I loved the people, but the missionary work was really hard. We didn’t see the success that other missionaries think of. People didn’t want to listen or have anything to do with you. We saw success in our own ways, and it helped create a sense of resiliency. I learned a lot of principles on my mission that translate to life. Being tough is the one I point to the most. Even when you struggle, you’ve got to keep going out and doing your job, knowing that if you are doing all you can, the rest will take care of itself.”
Sorensen drew upon these experiences as he returned home and walked on the Brigham Young University football team, where he found himself behind highly touted scholarship quarterbacks such as Jake Heaps, Riley Nelson, James Lark and others.
When Brad Sorensen realized he would likely not have the opportunity to showcase his talents, he called an audible and transferred to Southern Utah University, where head football coach Ed Lamb was looking for a quarterback.
“It was clear right away, with his arm strength and the leadership he brought, he stood out,” Lamb said. “With the velocity he put on a pass, no question, he was a once- or twice-in-a-career coaching opportunity.”
The 6-foot-5 quarterback with a golden arm said going to Southern Utah was one of the best decisions of his life. In addition to rewriting many of SUU’s passing records and leading the team to several wins, he became the first Thunderbird to be drafted into the NFL, selected by the Chargers in the seventh round. Cedar City is also where he met his wife, Nikki.
“There hasn’t been a day pass that I haven’t been grateful for that decision” to transfer to SUU, he said. “Daniel ended up becoming a star at BYU, and it would have been a blast to be there with him, but I didn’t want to just wear a jersey and sit on the bench. I knew I had talent. I wanted a chance to play.”
Since reaching the NFL level, it’s been a rocky road. Brad Sorensen spent the 2013 season as San Diego’s third-team quarterback but with inactive status. In 2014, the Chargers waived him. He spent a week on Tennessee’s practice squad before returning to San Diego’s practice team. Coming into the 2015 season, he was re-signed by the Chargers and hopes to find a permanent home this season.
After making an eight-hour drive from Salt Lake City to Riverside, California, Brad Sorensen was preparing to report for Chargers fall training camp when he received a phone call that the couple's second child was coming soon.
With San Diego coach Mike McCoy’s approval, Brad Sorensen scrambled to find a flight back to Utah. He eventually flew out of Orange County and arrived at the hospital with two hours to spare. His newborn son, Jackson Bradley Sorensen, weighed 8 pounds, 15 ounces and measured 21.5 inches, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune.
“Looking back on it now, it probably happened at the best time possible. We would have liked the baby to come a day or two early, but it worked out,” Sorensen said. “The biggest thing is that my son was healthy, my wife was healthy, and I was able to see it. All the other things, football, fatigue, traveling all day and showing up to practice, it was all worth it because I was able to see him, to hold him for the first time.”
With his family situation stable, Brad Sorensen is now fully focused on football. Thanks to effective offseason training with his brother Daniel and tips from San Diego quarterback and teammate Philip Rivers, Sorensen feels good about his chances of making the team. He completed 4 of 8 passes for 24 yards in the Chargers' first preseason game.
“I’m fortunate to have another chance with the Chargers, and camp has been good so far. We’ll see how things go in camp and the preseason,” Brad Sorensen said. “All you can hope for is to make the most of the opportunity when it’s given to you. It’s what I’m trying to do now.”
Many members of the Sorensen family played college football.
Besides Brad, an older brother, Trevan, played at UNLV; another brother, Cody, at the University of Utah; and yet another brother, Bryan, at San Bernardino Valley College.
Boston College, Nebraska, Ole Miss, USC and UCLA all recruited Daniel Sorensen, but he chose BYU in part because his cousin, Justin Sorensen, was the team's kicker. Seeing his older brother transfer to Southern Utah disappointed Daniel, but he respected Brad's decision.
Daniel Sorensen’s BYU career essentially began with him taking a knee on the sideline during practice, according to a byucougars.com article. He was watching safeties such as David Tafuna, Kellen Fowler and Andrew Rich. He became so frustrated that when he finally stepped on the field in a fall scrimmage, he hit so hard that he broke his helmet.
“I tried to tell the coaches I couldn’t see because my helmet was hanging sideways, but they had me stay in there,” he said in the article.
The coaches took note of Daniel Sorensen’s aggressive play, and he was moved to outside linebacker, where he played in 12 games as a true freshman.
Following his freshman year, Daniel Sorensen served an LDS mission in Costa Rica, which he described as a “growing experience.”
“You have to grow up real quick. You learn how to work hard and you learn self-mastery. You learn how to wake up early and go to bed tired. You are more mature and have a better perspective on life. You also learn there is more to life than football.”
Having lost weight on his mission, Daniel Sorensen returned to his natural position of safety and thrived. By the end of his senior year in 2013, he had played in 51 games, recorded more than 200 tackles, made eight interceptions and served as a team captain.
“I worked hard, followed my coaches and had a good experience,” he said. “I loved it.”
It was also in 2013 that Daniel married his wife, Whitney.
Unlike Brad, Daniel’s name was not called during the draft. He was signed as an undrafted free agent with the Chiefs in 2014, was waived, then was added to the practice squad. Later in the season, he was signed to the active roster and saw action in nine games.
One of the most memorable moments from Daniel Sorensen’s rookie year came when he and his wife went to the Kansas City Missouri Temple, as reported by espn.com.
That day, NFL teams cut their rosters to 53 players. To escape the stress of finding out his fate with the team, the couple left their cellphones in the car while attending the temple. When they returned a few hours later, their phones had overheated. When Daniel’s phone cooled off and began to function again, there was good news: he had made the team.
The couple continues to worship in the temple as often as they can.
“We like to be together in the temple and feel close to the Lord,” Daniel Sorensen said.
Last May, Daniel and Whitney received more good news as they welcomed their first child, a baby boy, to the world.
When asked about his chances with the Chiefs this year, Daniel Sorensen said he’s trying not to think about it too much. He just shows up each day and gives his best effort.
“I’m doing the best I can, working on little things to make myself better and prove my value to the team,” Daniel Sorensen said.
In the days leading up to the Chargers-Chiefs game at Arrowhead Stadium last December, the week of Christmas, communication was limited between the brothers.
“We didn’t talk very much that week,” Daniel Sorensen said. “I think we were both a little nervous to say too much.”
Brad, who was a member of the practice squad, and Daniel interacted on the field before kickoff and gave each other thumbs-ups when noticing each other during the game. Even after Kansas City won 19-7, the brothers relished the moment together.
“It was definitely fun,” Daniel Sorensen said. “It was a unique and special experience that I would not think a lot of people would get to share.”
During the offseason, the Sorensens worked out together at Dave Stroshine’s ASAP Performance in Orem. Several other NFL players with Utah ties joined the duo, including Haloti Ngata, Matt Asiata, Trevor Reilly, Jake Murphy and others. Playing different sides of the ball, they love to talk X's and O's and learn from each other’s knowledge and experiences.
“Our conversations mostly consist of football,” Daniel Sorensen said.
Both brothers hope the adventure will continue for years to come, not just for the football, but because they can enjoy the ride together.
“I think we are both lucky,” Brad Sorensen said. “It has strengthened our bond.”
Email: [email protected] Twitter: tbtoone