When the Buffalo Bills come to town Friday for the Carolina Panthers’ first exhibition, Panthers wide receiver Brenton Bersin will likely face a familiar foe in cornerback Ross Cockrell.
But despite the fact that two played together at Charlotte Latin, this would be the first time Cockrell has guarded Bersin – even including practices.
“We were never matched up against each other because whenever we were going offense, he’d be playing receiver with me, and then when we went defense … he’d play corner and I’d play safety on the same side,” Bersin said. “It’s kind of weird to say it would be our first time going up against each other.”
Bersin and Cockrell formed a dynamic receiver duo at Latin in 2007 – their only season together – in which the Hawks went undefeated and won the N.C. Independent School Athletic Association Division I state championship. Bersin caught 63 passes for 1,006 yards and 35 touchdowns, while Cockrell hauled in 41 passes for 806 yards and seven touchdowns.
Both players were named to the 2007 All-Observer High School Football Team, although Cockrell was named as a defensive back.
After high school, Bersin played four years at Wofford before going undrafted in 2012. Cockrell, on the other hand, spent five years at Duke, including a redshirt year, and was drafted in the fourth round by the Bills this June.
The players still keep in touch with each other, and Bersin saw Cockrell play in Charlotte last December when Duke played Florida State in the ACC championship game. Bersin even saw Cockrell’s parents at the Taste of the Panthers fundraiser last October.
Come game time, however, Bersin is hoping to have some fun at the expense of Cockrell.
“I caught I think three (passes) last preseason, and hopefully I can get a couple, maybe score a touchdown, maybe on Ross,” Bersin said.
“I’m not (usually) going to be talking to anyone. I’ll probably be fake talking junk to Ross during the game, but he’ll know I’ll be joking.”