Oher doesn't seem to mind mingling in a community in which he hopes to spend his entire career.

"I love Baltimore, I definitely look at it as home, somewhere I'm very comfortable," said Oher, his serious look softening a little. "I just love being here. Great city. Definitely have loyal fans, recognize everybody, no matter what you do for the team. I get to do everything, but they recognize everyone because they love their team so much."

Said Sean Tuohy Sr., who spent time in Baltimore long before Oher's arrival, "The people in Baltimore have been incredibly nice to him. It's just been a great place. Good kid, give you everything he's got, but it doesn't mean they have to like him. They've never given him a hard time. It's very comfortable."

But Tuohy Sr. said, "If you were in Oxford or Memphis writing this story, he would say the same thing. He has a very strong feeling for the city just like he did in college."

As for his younger son's decision to attend Loyola, Tuohy Sr. said, "It's really kind of strange how it happened but it feels like it was supposed to happen. It's been good."

The younger Tuohy's decision to attend Loyola had less to do with Oher than he led some to believe. Sean Tuohy Sr. said that he was playing golf in Baltimore last summer with an old friend, Kurt Aarsand. When talk turned to SJ's college choices, Aarsand's wife Jeanne, asked "Why isn't he going to Loyola?"

Jeanne Aarsand talked up SJ to longtime friend and Loyola men's basketball coach Jimmy Patsos, who checked up on the 6-foot point guard through the Internet and Tuohy's AAU coach in Memphis. He then called Tuohy offering him a chance to be a walk-on.

A few weeks later, Patsos was sitting a few rows in front of Tuohy's parents at a Ravens game at M&T Bank Stadium.

"I'm recruiting your son," Patsos told them.

"You'll have to go through mama," said Sean Tuohy Sr., referring to his wife.

Though Leigh Anne Tuohy wasn't thrilled with her youngest child being so far from home for college — Collins had attended Mississippi along with Oher — the idea of having his big brother close by was certainly reassuring.

Sean Tuohy Sr. said that his son's decision to attend Loyola "was about 80 percent Jimmy Patsos, and 19 percent the feeling he got for Loyola," but having Oher around "since the decision has been huge…Michael even moved SJ into his dorm."

Said the younger Tuohy, "It didn't so much influence my decision but it made me so much more comfortable making it. It took away some nerves."

Unlike his big brother, who is expected to start at either left tackle (if Bryant McKinnie doesn't get in shape) or right tackle, (Sean Tuohy won't make an impact on the Greyhounds for awhile. He is redshirting this season and Loyola is loaded at point guard, with R.J. Williams returning for his sophomore year.

Tuohy can't compare the transition to his new environment to what Oher went through a decade ago, but "the thing that they have in common is that when Mike first came to Briarcrest, nobody gave him a chance to succeed or even previously. They had written him off. My sophomore or junior year in high school, nobody gave me a chance."

Tuohy said he was offered scholarships to Louisiana Tech and Arkansas State. He could have been a walk-on at Mississippi, where his father set and still holds the Southeastern Conference record for assists, but he chose Loyola for the opportunity it would give him to pursue a master's degree in communications. He wants to be a sports journalist.

For now he remains a walk-on redshirt looking to do whatever he can to help the Greyhounds get to a second straight NCAA tournament.

"I have my days where I say, 'What am I doing here? I can't make it.'," Tuohy said. "As a redshirt freshman, you've got to know your role. Your role is not to go out and score 20 points. Your role is to work hard, help those guys work as hard as they can. I'm not trying to be a star, I'm just trying to fit in and have a fun time playing basketball. That's what I am doing now."

But Oher said that his little brother shouldn't be underestimated.

"He's going to put in the work and he's smart enough to get the job done," Oher said. "Whenever he gets a chance, he'll be the smartest guy on the floor, he's a smart basketball player, he knows how to play the game. A lot of guys just play basketball, he knows how to play the game."

don.markus@baltsun.com

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