Sept. 6, 2008
By Eugene Matz
Special to GoHolyCross.com
Senior wide receivers Brett McDermott and Jon Brock were two key pieces in the explosive Holy Cross offense last year, and they are both looking to make even bigger impacts on the team during the 2008 season. Both players know how important they are to the teams' success, and with this being their last chance to help bring home the Patriot League championship trophy, motivation is far from a problem.
Brock and McDermott know the disappointment of being close to winning the Patriot League championship, with the Crusaders finishing one game back in the conference standings in each of the last two years. That has helped get them focused for the challenges that lie ahead in 2008. "We will not be satisfied with anything less than a Patriot League championship," said McDermott. "We have come close two years in a row, but have come up one game short each time." With this being the final season at Holy Cross for both receivers, they are both prepared to put everything they have into helping the team win. "This is our last chance," said Brock. "We are both seniors now, and we want to go out on top."
McDermott, a native of Mansfield, Mass., played in all 11 games last season, and finished tied for second on the team with 56 receptions for 727 yards. He led the team with 1,031 all-purpose yards, in addition to scoring five touchdowns. McDermott was also a threat on kickoff returns, averaging 24.8 yards on 12 returns, earning him the eighth-best single season kickoff return average in Holy Cross history. Brock knows better then anybody what makes McDermott so dangerous as a wide receiver and special teams player. "Brett McDermott is non-stop, going full speed at all times," said Brock. "He is running with the same speed and intensity on his first route as he is running on route 99 at the end of the game. He is like a little kid out there -- he never stops running."
When McDermott was first being recruited to Holy Cross, he was far from the wide receiver that he has become. Being successful in high school did not guarantee an easy transition to playing Division I football, and McDermott had to put in a lot of hard work to become the skilled wide-receiver that he is today. "I came in here raw, real rough around the edges," said McDermott. "I could not do any of the things back then that I can do now. From running routes, to reading defenses, to knowing how to block the right guy, I have improved in every aspect of the game."
Brock, who hails from Acworth, Ga., played in all 11 games last season and ranked fourth on the team with 45 catches. He finished with 537 receiving yards and two touchdowns, and almost doubled his total yards from the previous year. Coming out of the Asheville School in North Carolina, where he was a teammate of Holy Cross co-captain Daryl Brown, Brock was being recruited as a running back by many schools. Even though he rushed for 2,500 yards and 35 touchdowns during his high school career, Brock never felt like a true running back. "That's just the way my high school played -- all run, little pass," said Brock. "So I played running back by default." But when he went into the camps for different colleges that were recruiting him, he realized he wanted to play receiver.
Even though it took some time for him to get use to lining up as a receiver every play, thanks to the guidance and support of the Holy Cross coaching staff, he became one of the Crusaders go-to receivers. "When I first came here, I was like a deer in the headlights -- I did not know what was going on," said Brock. "My success is definitely a testament to our coaches." As his career at Holy Cross progressed, Brock's explosiveness and catching ability improved, and his ability to score every time he touched the football has made him one of the focal points in the high-powered Crusader offense. "He is a big-play guy, just an overall solid receiver who does his job every play," said McDermott. "He has a lot more moves then I do, and it is a pleasure to be on the same field as him."
The goal for this season may be to win the Patriot League championship, but the players know that before they can achieve that, they need to concentrate on each game as an individual challenge. Both Brock and McDermott know first-hand how strong the Patriot League is, and no team on the schedule can be taken for granted. As Brock pointed out, "Last year Fordham was picked to finish sixth during preseason rankings, and they ended up finishing in first." Even though the season is long and unpredictable, McDermott and Brock are more focused than ever, and no one needs to remind them that they will not have another chance to compete for the Patriot League championship.