The Twins of Ole Miss
May 7, 2015 By Austin Miller, OleMissSports.com
OXFORD, Miss. -- They're from Tennessee, Pennsylvania, The Netherlands and Bassfield, Mississippi, but they all have one thing in common.
They are sets of twins competing for the Ole Miss Rebels.
That's right, there are currently four pairs of twins who chose to attend school in Oxford and compete in athletics for the Red and Blue.
Breanna and Deanna Tate. Aisha and Lanae Newsome. Bo and Britt Ummels. A.J. and C.J. Moore. All the same, and all different. Three on the women's track team, and the Moore brothers in football. They all share a special bond as twins and some similar attributes, but they're all different in their own way.
They are all hard to tell apart from another. Coaches, teammates and classmates have to rely on dimples, freckles or slight differences in height and size to tell one twin from another. Stories of mistaken identity have arisen from each set of twins.
"In high school, we would switch classes for the day on April Fool's and the teachers would never know," Deanna Tate said.
"I don't understand how they wouldn't know because they saw us every day in class," Breanna added.
In some cases, they dress the same, as the Tates did for their interviews for this story. They also finish each other's sentences, often interjecting their own answer to a question asked of the other one. In many ways, they are inseparable.
"It's different," said A.J. Moore of having to attend separate classes because he and C.J. have different majors. "I worry about him. I feel like I'm the smarter one."
"Whoa," C.J. interjected.
"I worry about him and his grades," A.J. continued, smiling. "I'll be in math class, and I'll be worried about how he's doing in his history. Maybe if I was in class with him, maybe I could help him get better grades or something."
"Well, come on now," C.J. finished. "Of course, I feel like I'm smarter. With us splitting up, it is different. I don't like it. I'm just being honest because I like being around my brother. I would rather be together than splitting up like that."
They're all competitive, whether they're going against one another or playing for the same team.
"I'm by far the fastest," said C.J., who along with his brother was a high school track star in addition to football.
"In certain races," A.J. interjected.
"I'll beat him in the 400," C.J. responded. "He knows he can't touch me in that. I have more heart."
"That's not speed, just because you can run a lap," A.J. joked.
"That's speed," C.J. confirmed.
"When you can run the 100 and 200 and you beat me, then we can talk," A.J. responded, emphatically.
Breanna Tate runs the 100 and 200 meters, while Deanna runs the 200 meters and 400 meters, and they combine in the 4x200 meter relay.
"When we do handoffs, we only have to do it one time," Breanna said.
"The chemistry clicks," Deanna agreed.
"It clicks," Breanna finished. "We don't even practice handoffs because Coach O'Neal knows we would be fine handing off to one another."
The Ummels sisters both run middle distances for the Rebels.
"We started at the same time about four years ago, running in the Netherlands," Britt said. "We didn't have a track team with school, but we had a club team in the area. We were running cross country at our school, and one of our teachers saw us running, and then we joined the club, and one thing led to another, and now here we are."
Aisha Newsome competes in the hurdles, while Lanae does long jump and triple jump.
"In high school, I hurdled before she did, and then when I hurt my hip, I quit hurdling," Lanae recalled. "And then our coaches thought to try her with hurdles, and she was good. I sprinted before I jumped, and they thought I should try jumping, and I was good at that."
A.J. and C.J. Moore both play in the secondary for the Ole Miss football team, but in different spots, with A.J. at Huskie and C.J. at Rover safety.
"We're out there together," A.J. said. "He's a Rover, and I'm a Huskie."
"So I tell him what to do basically," C.J. continued.
"Whoa," A.J. said. "He didn't understand the scheme at first, so I was trying to tell him what to do. He was always asking me what we were running."
"I tell him what to do though," C.J. finished. Can you tell they are competitive yet?
For each of them, the recruitment of one had an effect on the other. The Tates and Newsomes knew they did not want to separate from one another. The Ummels said they would be supportive of the other if only one of them had received an offer. The Moores briefly thought about splitting up to create hype.
But in each case, they decided, either together or one after another, to attend Ole Miss.
"It's no different than recruiting any other athlete on the team," said track and field head coach Brian O'Neal. "It's just that you will have two of them, versus one of them. When you're recruiting them, you make sure that you spend time with each one of them individually so they understand that we're not just bringing them in because they're a twin."
Breanna and Deanna grew up in an athletic family, the younger sisters of Golden Tate, a wide receiver with the NFL's Detroit Lions, and Wesley Tate, who played football for Vanderbilt. The success of their older siblings encouraged each of them to pursue their own athletic goals.
"We didn't really start doing sports until high school because my mom was so busy with them," Deanna remembers. "It was fun watching them play every time they played."
`Growing up with them, we felt like we had to do sports," Breanna continued.
"That's what makes us so close," Deanna finished.
The Ummels twins came to Ole Miss from Maastricht, Netherlands. They completed undergraduate studies in health science, and now they're pursuing graduate degrees in criminal justice. In addition to their studies, they said they do pretty much everything together.
"It was really scary to come to another country and not know what was going to happen," Britt said. "It was good to have someone with you. If you ever feel lonely, you have one another, so it was great to have her with me."
"It was such a big step to come to the United States that we wanted to stick together," Bo added.
"If only one of us had gotten an offer, we would have been encouraging of the other, but I was really happy that we were able to do it together," Britt concluded.
The Moores are best known for their "Show Up to Show Out" mantra, which has its origins from the camps they attended during high school. The mantra went viral after making an appearance on The Season, specifically the episode chronicling the 2014 opener against Boise State.
"Since dad made it, and I'm the junior, I'm going to take the credit for it," A.J. stated.
"I'm show out," C.J. interjected.
"Oh my goodness," said A.J., with a chuckle.
"He's just show up," C.J. answered. "C.J.'s show out, A.J.'s just show up. I'm going to show out."
"Come on now, of course I'm going to argue against that," A.J. said. "I feel like I show out. We both show up. Dad made it up, and since I'm the junior and the oldest (by one minute), I'm going to take the credit for it."
One final thing all the twins share is a competitive spirit, not only among themselves, but in their respective fields of competition.
"One thing that twins naturally bring is a competitive fight," O'Neal said. "I'm not a twin, so I can't tell you whether that's a true trait or not. But I can tell you that all three sets of twins that we have are competitive. Not only do they want to beat the other sibling, but they want to beat everybody that they compete against, and that's a trait you cannot coach."
Austin Miller is a writer and blogger for OleMissSports.com. He joined the staff in June 2013 after serving as sports editor of the Daily Mississippian. Follow him on Twitter at @austinkmiller.
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