Northeast Times

Washington WR duo has game-changing abilities

Dy­nam­ic duo: Rasheed Black (left) and Has­san Brock­man have be­come fast friends and a dy­nam­ic wide re­ceiv­ing combo for Wash­ing­ton.

Rasheed Black and Has­san Brock­man have been play­ing or­gan­ized foot­ball since they were 8 and 6 years old, re­spect­ively. In fact, grow­ing up as young­sters play­ing Pop Warner foot­ball in Phil­adelphia, Black and Brock­man of­ten saw each oth­er on the grid­iron.  

Their fath­ers have been close friends for many years, but the two tal­en­ted ath­letes ac­tu­ally nev­er got to know each oth­er un­til their foot­ball paths crossed at George Wash­ing­ton High School.

Has­san Brock­man Sr. be­came the wide re­ceiv­ers coach for Wash­ing­ton at the be­gin­ning of the 2011 sea­son when Black and Brock­man were be­gin­ning their sopho­more year. Black was already a stu­dent at Wash­ing­ton, while Brock­man was en­rolled at North­east. Neither was play­ing foot­ball yet, al­though both had as­pir­a­tions to do so even­tu­ally.

Black joined Wash­ing­ton’s varsity team that year as a sopho­more, and Brock­man Sr. was there to help with the foot­ball trans­ition. The fol­low­ing year, the young­er Brock­man couldn’t res­ist join­ing his fath­er and Black at Wash­ing­ton. A bond formed im­me­di­ately.

Brock­man Sr. took the boys un­der his wing and began teach­ing them about the wide re­ceiv­er po­s­i­tion. The three of them began work­ing out to­geth­er, learn­ing routes, de­vel­op­ing chem­istry and get­ting to know each oth­er.

“We work out to­geth­er all the time, just us three. We prac­tice routes, work on things. We know what to do,” the young­er Brock­man said.

Last year, the two ju­ni­or re­ceiv­ers didn’t see much game ac­tion on the field, as they gave way to some of the tal­en­ted seni­ors Wash­ing­ton had. As seni­ors, only two games in­to this sea­son, Black and Brock­man are fi­nally get­ting a chance to show­case their tal­ents and are quickly mak­ing a name for them­selves.

On Fri­day, Wash­ing­ton fell to West Cath­ol­ic, 38-17, a team the Eagles beat in over­time last year. Nev­er­the­less, Black and Brock­man stood out as Wash­ing­ton’s two most tal­en­ted of­fens­ive play­ers. Both play­ers pose in­cred­ibly dif­fi­cult match­up prob­lems for the op­pos­i­tion.  

Last year, Wash­ing­ton av­er­aged a little less than 16 passing at­tempts per game, and at­temp­ted only 25 or more passes twice all sea­son. In two games this sea­son, the Eagles have thrown the ball 24 and 25 times, re­spect­ively, with 17 of 25 total com­ple­tions go­ing to either Black or Brock­man. The two ex­plos­ive wideouts have ac­coun­ted for 262 of Wash­ing­ton’s 390 total yards of of­fense.

Brock­man, at 5-foot-6 and 160 pounds, serves as Wash­ing­ton’s “of­fens­ive weapon” type play­er. He plays re­ceiv­er, corner­back and re­turns kicks and is al­ways a threat to break open a large gain.  Brock­man said he tries to emu­late shifty Ore­gon run­ning back De­Anthony Thomas in the way he uses his speed to cre­ate match­up prob­lems and ex­cel in the open field.

On Fri­day, Brock­man opened the game with a 70 yard kick­off re­turn that set up GW’s first TD of the game, caught five balls for 66 yards and in­ter­cep­ted a ball in the end zone that he re­turned 64 yards, though the ref­er­ee ruled Brock­man fumbled after he was tackled des­pite ap­pear­ing down by con­tact. Brock­man said he just let the ball go after be­ing tackled as­sum­ing the play was dead, but in ret­ro­spect real­ized he prob­ably should have waited for the whistle.

“I rolled down and I just let go [of the ball], and the ref didn’t blow the whistle in time, so that was my mis­take,” said Brock­man, who fin­ished with 214 all-pur­pose yards.

Black, at 6-foot-4 and 185 pounds, is a truly gif­ted spe­ci­men and the ideal out­side re­ceiv­er. He is the per­fect com­ple­ment to Brock­man pair­ing Brock­man’s slot speed with his ath­let­ic out­side play.

“I’m on the out­side, he’s [Brock­man] in the slot,” Black said. “When I get double-teamed, he’s al­ways open. When he gets doubled-teamed, I’m al­ways open. In the re­ceiv­ing corps, we’re the lead­ers. We like to start it off, and he’s an X-factor when it comes to spe­cial teams.”

Brock­man echoed his friend and team­mate’s sen­ti­ment.

“Me and him, we’re like a duo. If you stick me, he’s go­ing to be open. If you stick him, I’m go­ing to be open,” Brock­man said.

Against West Cath­ol­ic, Black caught four passes for 69 yards, in­clud­ing a 19-yard un­der­thrown ball in­to double-cov­er­age he had no busi­ness com­ing down with. He also had a 24-yard touch­down to give Wash­ing­ton a 14-8 lead with 3:09 left in the first quarter. However, with 2:15 left in the third quarter and Wash­ing­ton trail­ing, Black tweaked his ankle on a ball that wasn’t even in­ten­ded for him. He did not re­turn, hinder­ing Wash­ing­ton’s of­fens­ive at­tack.

“It was an ad­just­ment to the ball, I turned around too fast and it [ankle] got caught in the turf. The ball wasn’t thrown to me,” Black said.

Black was ready to get back out there, but the coaches didn’t want to risk fur­ther in­jury in a non-league game so early in the sea­son. Black un­der­stood, but as a com­pet­it­or, he wanted to help his team.

“If I was still play­ing,” Black said, “I felt I could have helped put more points on the board for us.”

Black is ranked by Philly.com as the 22nd best over­all high school play­er in south­east­ern Pennsylvania and the No. 2 wide re­ceiv­er. His ath­leti­cism is un­canny, but his de­mean­or, at­ti­tude, ca­dence and know­ledge of the game are equally im­press­ive. All of these things com­bined make him a le­git­im­ate threat at the next level.

Last sea­son, Black fin­ished with 10 catches for 145 yards and a touch­down. In six quar­ters this sea­son, he already has eight catches for 145 yards and a TD.

As for col­lege, Black has already re­ceived in­terest from Pitt­s­burgh, North Car­o­lina State, Penn State, West Vir­gin­ia and Rut­gers. And does he have a pref­er­ence?

“Wherever I can show my tal­ents,” Black said.

Black and Brock­man con­tin­ue to build their close friend­ship on and off the field, and they’ll con­tin­ue work­ing with Brock­man Sr., something that is ex­tra spe­cial for his son.

“It’s good, be­cause I have the view from him coach­ing me and be­ing my dad on the field at the same time,” Brock­man of his dad. “I have to live up to what he ex­pects me to do from him teach­ing me my re­ceiv­er skills.”

With his small stature, Brock­man doesn’t have the phys­ic­al gifts that Black has, so the trans­ition to the next level of foot­ball might not come as easy.

Of course, he is de­term­ined to prove the doubters wrong. What Brock­man lacks in size, he makes up with in­tel­li­gence. Like Black, he has a high foot­ball IQ and can play mul­tiple po­s­i­tions. Brock­man has a unique knack for the ball and he can’t wait to prove his naysay­ers wrong.

“I’m def­in­itely go­ing to prove to them I’m ready for the next level at this size,” he said.

Des­pite start­ing the sea­son 0-2, both play­ers think this early-sea­son ad­versity can mo­tiv­ate Wash­ing­ton head­ing in­to its next game Thursday night against West Chester Hende­r­son.

“Go­ing in­to a short week, I think we are ready,” Brock­man said. “I could see it in guys’ faces that it hurt (to lose). We’re go­ing to be ready to bounce back on Thursday.”

“It just put a chip on our shoulder go­ing for­ward,” Black echoed. “We’re go­ing to come out stronger.” ••

You can reach at andrew.porter@cbsradio.com.

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