PHOENIX – Redshirt senior safety Alonzo Addae will start and play in his final game with West Virginia on Tuesday when the Mountaineers (6-6, 4-5 Big 12) take the field for the Guaranteed Rate Bowl against Minnesota (8-4, 6-3 Big Ten).
It will mark Addae’s 23rd start for the Old Gold and Blue — but three days before it kicks off, his cousin, Jahleel, made his first NFL start since 2019.
“It was great. Me and my cousin have a real close relationship,” Alonzo told Gold and Blue Nation on Sunday.
Jahleel is also the younger brother of former WVU defensive back and assistant coach Jahmile Addae. He is in his first season with the Indianapolis Colts, who played against the Arizona Cardinals on Christmas Day. With the Colts down a number of starters due to both injury and COVID-19, the veteran safety made his first start with Indianapolis and his cousin was on hand to see it.
“From [when we were] young, we kind of were raised together,” Alonzo told Gold and Blue Nation. “And then to be able to see him do the thing that I’m working towards, as well, it’s motivation at its finest.”
Alonzo finished with the third-most tackles (69) on West Virginia’s defense this season. He also recorded 4.5 tackles-for-loss and was a finalist for the 2021 Canadian Cornish Trophy, which is given annually to the top Canadian player in college football.
Jahleel has been in the NFL since 2013, when he signed with the San Diego Chargers as an undrafted free agent out of Central Michigan. He played six seasons with the Chargers, even making the move to Los Angeles with the franchise before playing one season with the Houston Texans.
It was during that 2019 season in Houston that Jahleel made his most recent start.
He re-signed with the Chargers for the 2020 campaign and played in 11 games. He joined the Colts midway through this season, in late October.
Jahleel suited up for 22 games after his last start with the Texans. He was back in the starting lineup for the first time in more than two years on Christmas Day.
“It’s definitely huge. A great moment,” Alonzo said. “Plus, on Christmas Day, I’m not with my immediate family, but to see my extended family it’s great too.”
Jahleel registered six tackles in the Colts’ 22-16 upset win over the Cardinals.
Eighteen miles down the road, Alonzo looks to help lead an upset of his own over the Golden Gophers.