Alabama safety Vinnie Sunseri will have one eye on the BBVA Compass Bowl

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. – While Alabama spent Saturday continuing it’s preparations for Notre Dame and the BCS National Championship, safety Vinnie Sunseri’s mind couldn’t help drifting to Birmingham, Ala., where his brother, Tino, was playing of the final bowl game of his career.

Tino is the starting senior quarterback for Pitt, which was taking on one of Alabama’s SEC rivals Ole Miss in the BBVA Compass Bowl. Unfortunately for Sunseri, he wasn’t sure he was going to get to watch it.

“I hope I get to catch the end of the game,” Sunseri said. “It’s been like this all year. I haven’t seen him play at all except our bye week because we’ve been playing at the exact same times. But he’s had a much better year than I have.”

In fact, Sunseri hasn’t really seen his brother take a snap since the two were in middle school. Because their father Sal was a college football assistant, the family moved around a lot and when it moved from Pittsburgh to North Carolina, Tino, who’s three years older than Sunseri, decided to finish his high school career at Pittsburgh Central Catholic, while Sunseri continued high school in Waxhaw, N.C.

“After every game we talk to each other and we let each other know what’s going on and how it’s going,” Sunseri said. “It’s tough. He’s been able to make my games just because my bowl game always been just a little bit later than his, but I’ve never been able to see a college football game really, and that’s really sad to me.”

Sunseri will get to see his brother play in a senior showcase game in Montgomery, Ala., later this month, a trip he’s excited about. And Tino – and the rest of the Sunseri family – will be at Monday’s BCS National Championship.

While the Sunseri brothers don’t have a set tradition on gamedays, the Sunseri family - father Sal, who was recently fired as the defensive coordinator at Tennessee, mother Roxann, sons Vinnie and Tino and daughters Ashlyn and Jaclyn – does. And it’s one that Sunseri looks forward to every Saturday (or in this case, Monday).

“Before every game we text each other, say we love each other, tell each other good luck and that we’re so excited for each other and each other’s opportunities,” Sunseri said. “It’s always been that way.”

Even though they can’t always be there in person for each other, the family is very close-knit, something Sunseri values and said helps propel him on gamedays. He knows he always have the support of his family and he hopes his family members, even the ones he can’t support in person, feel the same way.

“We’re each other’s biggest fans and just really excited for each person in the family for their successes and we support them through their struggles,” Sunseri said.

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