Football remains a core part of Kenny and Obi Anunike's lives, although the Olentangy graduates never anticipated their careers playing out as they have.

Kenny, a 2008 graduate and the oldest of four siblings, became one of the best defensive ends in Duke history before playing in the NFL for two seasons, earning a Super Bowl ring and transitioning into a career in coaching.

Obi, who is eight years younger than Kenny, helped the Braves to consecutive playoff appearances his junior and senior seasons before signing with Toledo in 2016 as a defensive end.

While injuries derailed their original plans, neither is complaining.

After two successful seasons as a graduate assistant at Ohio State, Kenny was named defensive line coach at Fordham in April. Obi, despite never playing a down for the Rockets, remained active with the program as a student coach.

"My family said I always coach them, so why not go do that for young men and make that your passion, your calling?" Kenny said. "And it looks like that's what's happened."

In hindsight, Obi regarded his transition in a similar fashion after being told two years ago that his career was over.

"I got to stay around the guys and saw them working extremely hard. It helped me mentally," he said. "Something I loved had been stripped away from me. Seeing (teammates) achieve their goals was extremely inspiring."

Both brothers were three-star recruits coming out of Olentangy.

Kenny helped turn around a Duke program that had won only four games from 2004-07. He amassed 148 career tackles, including 15 sacks, and helped lead the Blue Devils to a 10-4 record in 2013 and an appearance in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl.

Kenny signed with the Denver Broncos as an undrafted free agent in 2014, but spent his rookie season on injured reserve because of an elbow injury. He played in three games the next year, recording one unassisted tackle, and despite being placed on IR again that November earned a ring when the Broncos defeated Carolina in the Super Bowl.

Kenny was waived in August 2016 and spent three months with the New York Jets before being waived in April 2017. He then returned to Columbus, unaware that a visit to his high school coach, Ed Terwilliger, would change his life.

Terwilliger, who retired from Olentangy in 2013 and became the Buckeyes' director of high school relations two years later, introduced Anunike to defensive line coach Larry Johnson.

"(Anunike's) biggest thing is energy," Ohio State defensive end Zach Harrison, an Orange graduate, told reporters in December before the Buckeyes played Clemson in a College Football Playoff semifinal. "It's hard to come into practice and not match him. He's yelling and screaming and his voice is all intense. You can't be lazy about it because he just brings it out of you. That's his biggest attribute."

Kenny, who was hired at Fordham in early April, spoke glowingly of Johnson and his time at OSU.

"I was so grateful for him to choose me as his (graduate assistant), where I could learn to grow and truly understand what it takes to be a defensive line coach in the college ranks," said Kenny, who takes part in daily meetings with the rest of Fordham's coaching staff and regularly contacts his players. "(Coaching) is a blessing. I am looking forward to building this with them and helping them achieve all their dreams."

Obi underwent six football-related surgeries between his sophomore year at Olentangy in 2013 and his sophomore year of college. He still made his name on both sides of the ball, catching 111 passes for 1,279 yards and 11 touchdowns to help the Braves to a Division II state semifinal in 2014 and a Division I regional final the next year.

When recovery from a torn left ACL in 2017 took longer than normal, Obi had discussions with his coaches, doctors and family before deciding to officially end his career.

"I couldn't return to a version of myself that was acceptable to me or my doctors," Obi said. "When I went up and told (my coaches) the day I made the decision I wasn't going to play anymore, I told them that just because my career on the football field has ended, I don't want the opportunity to contribute to this program to end as well."

He then became a student coach, attending all meetings, practices and games. His duties include running drills and holding up personnel cards from the sideline.

"(Obi) is the picture of how sports can help shape you as a person no matter what you did on the field," Rockets coach Jason Candle told UTRockets.com in April.

Obi will graduate from Toledo on Saturday, May 9, with a degree in finance. He hopes to eventually obtain an MBA.

"I am just very grateful," Obi said. "While I did have a tumultuous career and it was difficult at times, I always felt like I belonged. I felt like I was making an impact."

dpurpura@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekDave