Eric Kendricks, Through His Family’s Eyes

Photo courtesy of USA Today

Photo courtesy of USA Today

The similarities, Yvonne Thagon says, are uncanny.

The mother of Mychal and Eric Kendricks has old photos of the brothers playing sports back when they were kids, and says their mannerisms — like how they’d squat down while waiting to go in a game, their hands placed just like so — are identical. During the one year they played football together in high school, she had a difficult time telling them apart on the field  given that they played the same position (middle linebacker) and had similar builds and playing styles.

“They are so alike,” said Thagon, “yet so different.”

Personality-wise, Mychal is more outgoing and overflowing with energy, whereas Eric is more reserved by comparison. Their approach to football seems to cut along those same lines as well. Mychal relies more on athleticism and instinct, while Eric takes a more studious method.

“He wants to know all the nooks and crannies,” said their father, Marvin, a former standout running back who starred at UCLA and spent a training camp with the Eagles early on in the Dick Vermeil era. “If you check with the coaches at UCLA, Eric did so much film work, they had to run him outta there. The thing is, it showed up on the field because a lot of times Eric knew what the quarterback was going to call before he even called it.”

According to Yvonne, Eric developed his strong work ethic at an early age. The family was not well off and to take some of the financial burden off his mom, Eric would sell burritos out of his car about four days a week during his high school years for extra money. Even paid his own way to prom.

“Eric has always been a hustler,” she said.

A trait that has helped get him ahead in football as well.

“He just knows where to be and where to go and he’s a sure tackler. He may not be as talented as Mychal, but I damn sure think he makes up for it,” said Marvin. “Mychal has so much talent, he can do the wrong thing and make up for it. But Eric, he’s just not going to make any mistakes. Eric is going to be where he’s supposed to be. You can count on that. And I think that’s one of the things that’s going to put him in that first round.”

Eric (6-1, 230) is currently training in Arizona to prepare for next week’s Scouting Combine in Indianapolis. Currently, he is projected by most analysts as a first or second-round pick.  There’s been plenty of talk here in Philly about the possibility of the brothers joining forces for the Eagles. That subject came up within the family circle during Super Bowl week when Mychal and Yvonne were out visiting Eric in AZ.

“I said, ‘Wouldn’t it be nice, you guys?’ And they said, ‘Heck yeah it would be nice,’ ” Yvonne recalls. “I asked, ‘Do you think you could play together?’ And they said, ‘Hell yeah we could play together. We’ve been doing it our whole lives.'”

Formally, though, they only played together for one year — when Mychal was a senior in high school and Eric was a sophomore.

Mychal moved on to Cal and was later drafted in the second round by the Eagles. Eric did not receive an offer from Cal, according to Mychal (“I tried to tell them: ‘Pick up my brother,’” Mychal said), and ended up attending UCLA instead. He went on to become the Bruins’ all-time leading tackler, and became the school’s first winner of the Butkus Award (given to the nation’s top linebacker) after a stellar senior season in which he racked up 136 tackles, three interceptions and two sacks. He is considered one of the top linebacker prospects in the upcoming draft.

Has Mychal allowed himself to dream of playing alongside his brother once again, this time in Eagle green?

“Oh yeah, I have. It’s cool to think about it,” he said. “Will it happen? I don’t know.”