Two of the NFL's top receivers, Pittsburgh's Antonio Brown and Indianapolis's T.Y. Hilton, are set to do battle Sunday when the Steelers host the Colts in Week 8.
It won't be the first time the pair has competed to some degree, but they each weigh just a bit more now.
Brown and Hilton grew up in the same area and, while Brown is two years older and was playing in the 125-pound division at Gwen Cherry Park, Hilton was in the 105-pound division. Both thoroughly dominated at their respective levels, though.
"Both of them were very, very, very good at that level," T.Y. Hilton Sr. told RTV 6's Mike Chappell in Indianapolis. "You could see it, so it doesn’t surprise me the things they are doing now."
Hilton Sr. coached each of them at different points in their development and could identify the talent each of them had throughout that time. Hilton would go on to Miami Springs High School and eventually Florida International, while Brown, a Norland High School alumnus and Central Michigan product, entered the NFL first. Both have come on with a fury during the last season and a half. They currently rank first (Brown) and third (Hilton) in receiving yards in the NFL, and each has become the primary receiving option for a highly-talented, NFL quarterback.
Each appears all but unstoppable in his respective offense.
Hilton Sr. says he could predict their future ascension to the highest level in the NFL, but it's amazing to think those two players once competed on the same sandlots so long ago. Just as Brown was a former college teammate of J.J. Watt, his skills have been forged in the company of budding NFL superstars. While Hilton came from the same level of obscurity onto the big stage, Hilton Sr., like any proud parent or coach, saw it all coming.
"You could tell the difference in the kids that came through the Park," he said. "The only thing you would do was tell the parents to stay behind them, push them and keep them on the right track. You knew they had the talent to go to the next level."