When they came to America two years ago, rugby players from Zimbabwe, twins Eloi and Cosmas Kwete didn’t know anything about football.
They had to learn how to put on the equipment, get into a three-point stance, know not to take off until the ball was hiked.
Now, along with Casey Clanton, Phoenix Central High School will have three Division I college football players coming out of the same 2019 class since maybe the early 1990s, coach Jon Clanton believes.
“The pads, you have to put a helmet on, that was the biggest adjustment,” said Cosmas, who is two inches taller and 20 pounds lighter than Eloi at 6-foot-3, 230. “In rugby there is off-sides, so it kind of relates.”
They’re fast learners. And college coaches are catching onto these fast, aggressive, kind-hearted athletes who get high marks in the classroom and tear it up on the football field.
Kansas and Massachusetts have offered Cosmas, who plays defensive end. Massachusetts, Idaho and Northern Arizona have offered Eloi, who plays defensive tackle.
Casey Clanton, who has gained 30 pounds since last season is 6-4, 230, is mostly being recruited as a tight end but loves playing defensive end, as well. He has offers from Kansas, Ohio and Air Force.
“I’m real advocate on getting our kids to get college looks,” said coach Jon Clanton, a former Nebraska nose guard, who is Casey’s father. “I have a lot of personal friends I reach out to.”
The Kwete twins with their parents came to Arizona in May 2016 from Zimbabwe from a refugee camp.
They learned to speak six languages: English, French, Swahili and three other African languages.
“I’ve used those languages to pray for those parents who come here with their kids,” said Eloi, who is 6-1, 250. “English is not their first language obviously. I communicate with other kids from different parts of Africa who come here. It’s something I like doing to help other kids.”
Cosmas said they learned English through movies, music and cartoons.
This life has also given them luxuries they didn’t have before. Such as electricity.
“It was pretty rough,” Eloi said. “It was a country torn by war. And you don’t have all those utilities that you have here. It was a rough life.”