Corey Paredes vividly remembers that very first lesson.
Older brother Parker had been playing football for a year and was more than happy to initiate 8-year-old Corey’s education in the game.
"The first time I put on pads he wanted to show me how to hit, and unluckily for me he took me off my feet," Corey recalled yesterday, peeking over his shoulder at Parker, smiling and nodding a few yards away. "Ever since then I committed myself to taking him off his feet."
That affinity for contact stuck with both brothers as they progressed from Pop Warner through high school and on to college football.
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But for everything they shared growing up, the experience of playing on the same team wasn’t on that list. Not until this season, when Parker joined Corey in the Hawaii linebackers unit.
In his fourth year in the program, Corey is the likely starter at weakside linebacker. Parker transferred from Southern Oregon and joined the team in the spring with one season of eligibility remaining.
Parker gave up a scholarship, a year of eligibility and a starting spot for a shot at playing Division I ball and, finally, holding a spot on the same roster as Corey.
"Watching my little brother run around on defense was kind of big and I wanted to be a part of that," Parker said.
"I got to start and play for two years (at Southern Oregon) and that was great. But I think taking the next step up to the next level was necessary. … Now I have to pay for school, but it’s all worth it."
Prior to accepting the scholarship to Southern Oregon, Parker — born 18 months ahead of Corey — excelled at Kamehameha while mentoring his younger brother.
"He taught me about commitment and discipline and just to love the game," said Corey, who developed into a standout at Castle and earned a scholarship last year. "He always loved football, and it’s good to have an older brother lead by example so you can follow his ways."
Parker sat out last season due to transfer rules and was a frequent playmaker in his first spring practice with the Warriors. He was going to join the team when fall semester classes start on Monday, but was added to the 105-player fall camp roster last week when Alema Tachibana got hurt.
"I only have one more year and I wanted to know what camp was like, a D-I camp," Parker said. "The first day I came out with pads, but they told me I had to come out with (just) a helmet."
Now it’s the older brother following the lead of the younger, as Corey is helping Parker adjust to the Warriors’ defensive schemes while preparing for a featured role after leading the team with four sacks last season.
"(Corey’s) got a real good feel for what the defense is," said Dave Aranda, UH’s defensive coordinator and linebackers coach. "He’s got a better understanding of taking on blocks and playing the run. Last year he was a situational guy and this year he’s going to be more of an every-down guy."
Parker knows breaking into the linebacker rotation as a senior will be tough, but he hopes to carve out a role on special teams to get on the field. Corey took the same route early in his UH career and their mutual traits tend to come in handy whether in coverage or protection.
"They both love to hit," Aranda said. "I can only imagine those guys as little kids tearing it up."
So what was home life like with four brothers sharing living space on the Windward side?
"It was always crazy," Parker said with a laugh. "One guy was always crying, one guy was always screaming, always hitting each other."
Any childhood rivalries have since evolved into admiration among the siblings. As Parker and Corey prepare for the Warriors’ season-opening game against USC Sept. 2, they’ll also be tracking the progress of another brother.
Garrett Paredes is headed for Mt. San Antonio College in California after graduating from Castle earlier this summer. And there’s yet another Paredes brother continuing the line.
Nine-year-old Hunter is in his first season of Pop Warner football, and his older brothers figure to be a little easier on him when teaching him how to hit.
"He’s loving it," Corey said. "We’re going to try to make him the best."