University of Missouri

This Mizzou player might have to defend his brother in Saturday’s game at Purdue

Mizzou CB Adam Sparks on playing against his brother

Missouri cornerback Adam Sparks might be matched up Saturday, Sept. 14, 2018 against his brother Jared, who plays wide receiver for Purdue.
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Missouri cornerback Adam Sparks might be matched up Saturday, Sept. 14, 2018 against his brother Jared, who plays wide receiver for Purdue.

When Missouri cornerback Adam Sparks called his older brother Jared, a Purdue wide receiver, on FaceTime, they deliberately didn’t discuss Saturday’s football game that pits them against each other.

After all, they have playbooks to protect.

Missouri’s first road game of the season will pit the brothers against each other for the second time in as many years, as the Boilermakers beat the Tigers 35-3 in Columbia last season. The Tigers enter the game 2-0 for the first time under coach Barry Odom while Purdue is winless after being upset by Eastern Michigan on Saturday.

“We’ll probably talk a little smack this week,” Adam Sparks said.

During last season’s game, Jared Sparks was splitting time at wide receiver and quarterback for Purdue while Adam was buried on the depth chart in Missouri’s secondary.

Purdue’s Jared Sparks, right, tries to run past Missouri’s Logan Cheadle during the second quarter of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 16, 2017, in Columbia, Mo. (AP Photo/L.G. Patterson) L.G. Patterson AP

Jared had one catch for six yards in last year’s game and Adam said they only briefly matched up against one another, well after the game was decided.

Both brothers are listed as starters at their respective positions going into Saturday’s game. Jared now plays receiver full time and Adam has played a big part in Missouri’s secondary, which appears to have improved since last season.

It’s very possible that Adam Sparks’ assignment for Saturday is Jared, which would mark the first time the brothers are matched up against each other in a real game.

His alternative to covering his brother isn’t much better, as Purdue freshman wideout Rondale Moore has emerged as one of the country’s most exciting new faces with his speed and kick return ability.

Odom said Moore’s speed, “looks like it’s on fast forward” when watching him on tape.

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At Dutchtown High School in Geismar, La., Jared played quarterback full time while Adam was in the secondary.

“This year is going to be completely different,” Adam Sparks said.

For last year’s game, the Sparks family wore custom shirts that read “PurZou” with both teams logos on them. With the series ending after this season, the Sparks family is renting a bus for the 14-hour drive from Louisiana and bringing roughly 50 relatives to the game.

Adam Sparks said the idea of matching up with his brother has given his family “a lot of anxiety” going into Saturday’s game.

The brothers have been pooling their ticket allotments to make sure all relatives are accounted for, especially because the loser will want to avoid discussing the game during the holidays.

Alex Schiffer

Alex Schiffer covers University of Missouri athletics for The Star.