When it comes to the recruiting trail, Josh Imatorbhebhe secured a slight head start over older brother Daniel. Despite an early disparity in interest, their respective paths could eventually lead to the same college campus.
But if that isn't the case, an eight-win 2014 campaign at North Gwinnett High School in Georgia could be the final time this talented duo lines up together on the gridiron.
"It's something I try not to think about," Daniel said. "That possibility definitely stirs some emotions because we've done some great things alongside each other."
The Imatorbhebhes are among the most highly recruited pass-catchers in the Southeast, with 2015 prospect Daniel drawing more than a dozen offers at tight end and Josh commanding widespread interest as a coveted 2016 wide receiver.
The duo combined for 91 receptions, 1,559 yards and 23 touchdowns in 2014, per MaxPreps. A state title chase ended surprisingly early on Nov. 14, when the team was upset by Central Gwinnett High School in first-round playoff action.
Daniel is months away from finalizing collegiate plans, while Josh will enter the 2015 season viewed as one of the Peach State's premier returning seniors. Just a few years ago, the football field didn't appear to be the gateway to a bright future that it's become for both brothers.
"I thought I was going to the NBA," Josh said. "I was one foot in and one foot out in football. I thought basketball was my ticket to success. We both grew up thinking that."
That changed after his freshman season. Josh, once viewed as a potential pillar for the North Gwinnett basketball program, elected to follow Daniel's lead and focus solely on football.
"I knew it was a risk, and I was at an early crossroads in my life," Josh said. "I had to make an adult choice about which direction would be better for me in the long run and really just went on blind faith. It turned out to be a blessing."
He spent his sophomore campaign sharing snaps behind 4-star senior receiver Nate Brown, who now plays at Missouri. Despite limited touches, his 6'2", 202-pound frame and elite athleticism attracted the attention of several college coaching staffs.
Josh landed his first scholarship offer last January from Boston College, weeks before Florida presented Daniel with his initial offer. Even though he posted production that rivaled any 2015 Georgia tight end as a junior, the elder Imatorbhebhe watched as his brother beat him to a scholarship.
“It was a confusing time," Daniel said. "Josh was supportive. He just kept saying, ‘Yours is coming, yours is coming.' He’s a freak athlete, while I’m more someone who has to work hard to be above average. Things seem to come more naturally to him."
Still, there were moments of doubt for Josh, who found his full-time conversion to the football field more difficult than he expected at the onset.
"I thought football would be mostly about athletic ability, but it’s so much more than that," he said. "I struggled trying to figure out lot of stuff and thought about quitting, but my brother was always motivating me. Now I’ve matured to understand how to handle situations. I'm more meticulous in my craft and trying to actualize my potential."
By the start of the 2014 season, both Imatorbhebhes held offers from across the country.
Daniel committed to Missouri in April. However, he began to question that decision and eventually backed out of the verbal pledge in September.
Naturally, his loyalty to Josh was a motivating factor.
"That commitment was the first time in this process I really felt like I made a decision without fully considering my brother," Daniel said. "There were a lot of factors involved, and the Missouri coaching staff was great to me, but I didn't necessarily feel like Josh and I were on the same page there."
Since reopening his recruitment, Daniel has spent official visits at Florida and Ohio State. Josh, who also holds offers from each program, accompanied him on those trips.
“It was huge having him there with me," Daniel said. "If Josh couldn’t come on an official, I didn’t want to go. We talked about everything from the experience and how we felt about things. It’s great having him in the equation every step of the way.”
Meanwhile, Josh received a sneak peek of what lies ahead for him next season, when teams will be lining up to welcome the younger brother.
"What I took away from joining him for the process is that it’s a big deal," he said. "You can’t take it lightly. People roll out the red carpet and overextend themselves to get you on their campus. It shows just how huge of a decision this is."
That decision ultimately lies ahead for both players, but Daniel is up first. Along with Ohio State and Georgia, he's keeping a close eye on Vanderbilt and Cal.
As word spreads about Josh's junior season—a campaign that included four games with 100-plus receiving yards and 15 touchdown receptions—programs continue to join the pursuit. As his list of options grows, it creates more opportunities for him that don't involve Daniel.
"I understand why they would offer Josh and not me, especially if they already have the tight-end position filled for 2015," Daniel said. "It's just something we'll have to deal with moving forward."
Clemson and Georgia—a pair of programs Josh mentions as attractive destinations—are unlikely to offer Daniel at this stage. But don't think for a moment that closes the door on the possibility of this sibling twosome joining forces at the next level.
“My mom was praying for twins, and we were the closest thing she got. I love my brother," Josh said. "It would be great to play and live together in college. I don’t feel like that’s the main thing either of us need to worry about, though. We have different needs and different wants, so if that means we end up taking different paths, then so be it."
It's a realistic outlook, and one that causes emotions to surface for Daniel, who plans to enroll early.
"The clock is ticking for me," Daniel said. "It's my last season at home, my last Christmas at home. It all makes me want to sit back and enjoy these moments. Things are going to change in my life very soon, and even though I know my brother will always be a big part of it, I hope we still have a lot of snaps to take together on the field. It's been amazing to share this experience with him, and I'm not sure if I'm ready to let that go."
Quotes obtained firsthand by Bleacher Report recruiting analyst Tyler Donohue unless otherwise noted.
Recruit ratings courtesy of 247Sports.