LOS ANGELES — Grayson Murphy knows what it’s like to walk into the bathroom, look in the mirror and see a different version of himself.

Because he is standing right there.

This familiar face brushes his teeth in unison every morning after always getting up at the same time. A virtually indistinguishable couple will eat the same breakfast, go to the same soccer practice, attend the same classes, do the same homework, and stop at the same time.

Grayson and Gabriel Murphy are not separated, they are closer.

“I wouldn’t even say we’ve been away from each other for 24 hours in our entire lives,” Gabriel said.

Not all twins are the same. Grayson has a slightly thicker build and also has a small scar above his left eye. Gabriel’s curly hair was dyed a slightly darker yellow, his mother unable to replicate the same shade for her son.

Even so, the untrained eye would hardly be able to tell the difference between the leaders of the University of California, Los Angeles, who arrived last spring after moving from North Texas. Coach Chip Kelly, always an eye for detail, plans to greet one of the twins when he sees him walking around campus without the other.

“Murph,” Kelly said when asked what he would say. “Murph is doing well.”

Kelly is seen twice these days due to the twins’ refusal to go alone. As sophomores in high school, they thought about how rarely they were apart. The only time one attended a sleepover without the other was when the one left behind was imprisoned.

They made a deal. They will play together in college no matter what it takes. They told their high school coach not to even talk to coaches who wouldn’t see them as a package deal.

The decision had some unintended consequences. The Twins wanted to play at a Power Five conference school, but couldn’t find anyone willing to take them both.

“Oklahoma State would want one but not the other, TCU would want one but not the other,” recalled Charles Fawcett, the former Chargers quarterback who coached the Twins at Dallas Bishop Lynch High. “They both had offers to go to Power Five schools, but they weren’t together, so that made it difficult.”

Part of the problem was their different positions at the time, with Grayson at outside linebacker and Gabriel at inside linebacker. Most colleges will require one seat but not the other. Another problem was that the coaches felt that if one twin transferred, the other was sure to follow.

Their dilemma crystallized at a Texas Christian camp, where the coach informed the twins that the team could not take them both. Amid tears on the drive home, they called the coach from North Texas, a Group of Five school that had offered dual scholarships, to let them know they would come and show everyone what they were missing.

“It was an emotional phone call,” Grayson said, “because it’s always been a dream of ours to go to the Power Five and play big-time college football, and it just saddened us at the time because we knew we weren’t going to make that dream come true.” at that moment.”

There was some comfort in their initial choice of college. North Texas was about a 40-minute drive from their home in the Dallas suburbs, allowing them to fill laundry baskets with home-cooked meals each week to bring back to campus.

It also kept them close to their parents who loved them from birth. Their father, Chris, recalled thinking when his wife Shoniel told him she was pregnant that since the couple already had two children, a third wouldn’t be much more expensive. A few months later, she called to tell them they were having twins.

“I thought to myself then,” said Chris, “well, I guess four won’t cost more than three.”

Grayson was born two minutes after Gabriel, and there were complications with the birth of the second twin. His umbilical cord wrapped around his neck, Grayson wasn’t breathing. The nurses rushed him to another room to revive him.

They were named Christian Gabriel and Christiana Grayson. Like their older siblings, who are also named after their father, the twins will be named after their father to avoid confusion.

But sometimes even parents could not tell them apart. Shoniel dressed them in matching outfits. Chris once spanked the wrong twin, later telling him that the next time he misbehaved, he would get a pass.

The only time they didn’t have the same class schedule was as freshmen in high school. The counselor was concerned that the twins might scare their teachers, and besides, they really should be separated to make new friends.

By the time they were redshirt freshmen at North Texas, they were monstrous defenders. After rarely participating at linebacker, even in practice, they convinced the coach to let them play on the scout team early in the 2020 season.

In the next game, against Middle Tennessee State, Gabriel registered his first sack while Grayson had three defensive tackles and one tackle for a loss. This was double trouble for the rest of Conference USA, with the Twins making the all-conference teams by the end of the following season.

But deep down there was that desire for big college football. They went to the transfer portal and this time almost everyone wanted them both. More than 30 offers came from Power Five teams. State of Oregon. Oklahoma. USC. UCLA. Pension state. The twins had their choice.

The Bruins had an early advantage when linebackers coach Ikaiko Mallo, who had just returned to Southern California from a work trip, boarded another plane to Dallas for an in-home visit. Melo sold the Twins on his vision of an attacking defense that could help the team compete for a Pac-12 championship.

Penn State almost swayed their allegiance during a recruiting visit, but made one small, critical mistake. Among the items of school clothing, the twins were shown a coat several centimeters thick, reminding them of the brutal cold they would endure. They also inquired about the quality of the food and were told that, in fact, it would not earn Michelin stars.

Meanwhile, UCLA’s generous buffet drew raves from a trusted source in the form of Cam Johnson, a former North Texas Twins teammate who will play his final college season in 2021 as the Bruins’ quarterback. They were sold.

The only thing UCLA couldn’t offer was No. 9, which Grayson preferred because it was taken, so he switched to No. 12. It was another way to get close to his brother, who wore No. 11.

Twining gets the win for the undefeated Bruins (3-0), thanks in part to the 6-foot-3, 262-pound rookie, who linebacker Bo Calvert nicknamed the “Texas Two-Step.” They combined for one of the early season highlights — and bloopers — when Gabriel recovered a fumble against Alabama and threw the ball to Grayson for an apparent touchdown, only to have it called back for an illegal pass.

“I didn’t know I was throwing him forward,” said Gabriel, who lost his bearings. “We were just having fun there.”

They’ll finally get some big-conference football experience Saturday when UCLA takes on Colorado (0-3) in the Pac-12 opener in Boulder, a prelude to even bigger games against Utah, Oregon and USC. The Twins are intent on handing the Trojans a second setback after knocking them off their super-city rivals.

“I’ve always wanted to come to UCLA, I’m just going to say it,” Grayson said when asked how seriously he was considering USC.

Gabriel nodded and smiled. The feeling was mutual.

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