MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - That loud and heavy thwack, the unmistakable sound of pads and helmets meeting with velocity, rings out and rolls around the mostly empty seats inside Mountaineer Field.
One West Virginia football player with a blue No. 9 on his white jersey turns his attention to the action and scans the field. He locks on a teammate with a white No. 9 on a blue jersey who is similarly searching the crowd on the playing surface.
Neither Vance nor Vernard Roberts are involved in the play, but neither misses a chance to check up on his twin brother during spring practice with the Mountaineers.
"It doesn't matter if I was on one 1-yard line and he was on the 1-yard line on the opposite side, we'll make that connection, do some movement to encourage each other and let each other know we see each other," said Vernard, a true freshman inside receiver/running back. "We bring out the best in each other."
The brothers have known no other way. They've been competitors and collaborators from the beginning. Vance won the first battle and was born a minute earlier. He's careful to remember and remind Vernard.
"All the time," said Vance, a true freshman cornerback.
Vernard doesn't mind. In fact, he enjoys the motivation.
"He always tries to beat me up with stuff like that," he said. "He's a minute older than me and my parents know stuff like that gets to me, so they say stuff like, 'He's your big brother. Let your big brother go.' And I'm always like, 'He's not my big brother.'"
Vernard is actually listed one inch taller and three pounds heavier than his 5-foot-8, 179-pound older brother.
"Stuff like that is normal," Vernard said. "It's second nature to me. We're both used to it."
There was no getting away from it, although they tried. They're fraternal twins from Washington, D.C., and when he was 7 or 8 years old, Vernard actually cut off his dreadlocks, Vance still has his.
They were still confused for each other.
"We were always on the same basketball team growing up," Vance said. "They used to give him my points and give me his fouls."
Eventually, they learned to get with it and understood theirs was a unique and valuable relationship. Everyone had friends and teammates and many had brothers. Not everyone had a twin who was very much the other's equal.
"It's unique," Vance said. "You've got somebody you can talk to whenever you're down. You can always talk to that person and he's going to get you like nobody else.