Having lost a close contest to Ivy League rival Harvard, 34-31, Marblehead native Wes Rockett was oblivious to the national fame ESPN was sending his way — again.
“It may sound like a cliché, but I was mainly focused on the loss on the bus ride home, and how we can get better, instead of just talking about a play that happened in the second quarter,” Rockett said. “I’d rather be celebrating a win together.”
But then he noticed a few of his teammates trying to get his attention, gesturing toward their phones. Rockett did not have his own phone with him, but he had no shortage of volunteers on the team bus to show him theirs.
As it turned out, producers at ESPN had selected a dazzling 51-yard catch Rockett had made against Harvard as one of its “Top 10 Plays of the Day.” The play — “a double-move deep shot that our coaches had schemed up against what is a very aggressive defense,” Rockett said — came in at No. 3.
“I was definitely surprised (to be on the list) because I was just sitting on the bus replaying the game in my head as I always do,” Rockett said.
Rockett, a graduate of St. John’s Prep, was already familiar with the network’s popular daily segment. He made the Top 10 Plays last year, too, for a play he made against Princeton.
By the time Rockett got his hands back on his phone, it was filled with text messages from friends and family.
When the unexpected moments of fame have come his way, “it’s definitely cool to see the support,” added Rockett, who finished the Harvard game as his team’s leading receiver with 149 yards.
Rockett, the youngest son of Bill and Kate, said he is also proud to have had the opportunities to serve as an accidental ambassador for the Brown program.
As for last year’s Top 10 play, it came on a Friday night against Princeton and was quite similar, according to Rockett.
“That play last year essentially played out the same way as this one against Harvard,” he said.
That play, too, fell just short of the top spot on ESPN’s list, which his grandfather did not miss an opportunity to point out — in jest, of course.
“My grandpa always has fun with that one, because I couldn’t manage to be No. 1,” he said.
Prep provides good foundation
Rockett played lacrosse and football at the Prep, and it played a huge role in his development as a student-athlete.
“Having 1,200 boys under what is essentially one roof definitely creates a competitive environment, especially when everybody was the best or some of the best players coming from their respective towns,” he said. “You learned quickly that what you get is going to be earned.”
He added, “In life, in academics and in athletics, that is a critical lesson to learn. Learning this from the get-go had a profound impact on my future.”
Rockett calls his Prep football coach, former NFL quarterback Brian St. Pierre, and his lacrosse coach, John Pynchon, a Division I athlete in his own right, “two of the greatest coaches I have ever had.”
“Both offered infinite amounts of wisdom, and they also instilled values in myself and my teammates,” Rockett said. “I still refer back to (those values) because they have molded me into the person and player that I am today.”
Rockett graduated from the Danvers Xaverian Brothers high school in 2019, months after celebrating the Division 1 2018 Super Bowl championship at Gillette Stadium with his teammates, which they won by defeating Catholic Memorial, 40-22. Rockett was credited with 63 receptions during that Super Bowl campaign.
Love of sports begins early
Rockett developed his love for sports in the town’s youth leagues — and his Marblehead backyard.
“I played any sport that I could when I was growing up, whether it was in the backyard on Schooner Ridge with my older brothers (Owen and Hayden) or in the Marblehead youth sports programs,” Rockett said. “I played football, basketball, lacrosse and baseball. I also played some soccer way back in the day. But I wouldn’t exactly say that was my destiny.”
The town helped him in several different ways, he said.
“Everyone in town that supports the youth programs makes sports so readily available to each and every kid — not something that can necessarily be said anyplace else,” Rockett said. “We certainly can take that for granted sometimes. No matter the season, it seemed like every kid in town was active playing
any string of sports with their friends while bouncing from practice to practice. Additionally, there are so many great athletes here who have a widespread hunger for success, which can only create a certain atmosphere of healthy competition from a young age.”
Too soon to think about NFL
The 6-foot, 185-pound collegiate offensive threat has always dreamt about playing in the NFL someday, but right now his focus is on the Bears and doing everything he can to win each week this fall.
“Everything else will take care of itself when the time comes, because the priority now is the opponent in front of us and putting ourselves in the best position possible to be successful as a unit,” Rockett said.
So far, so good, in that regard. The Brown Bears opened up this season with a win against Bryant College on Sept. 16, 29-25. Rockett caught eight passes for 123 yards and two touchdowns to lead the way.
After losing to Harvard by three — don’t blame Rockett, who hauled in nine passes for 149 yards, including the ESPN-worthy highlight — Brown then defeated Central Connecticut State last Saturday in its home opener, 42-20. Rockett totaled 148 yards on eight receptions, several of which extended drives, and he also again found the end zone
Next on the schedule, Brown will host the Rhode Island Rams Saturday, Oct. 7, beginning at noon.
Besides being a prolific receiver, Rockett is also a punter and kick returner, the latter of which is a source of stress for his mother, he acknowledged.
Rockett is majoring in behavioral decision sciences but has no plans to be a neuroscientist. He signed up for the major “to leverage the unbelievable research opportunities that Brown has to offer in order to conduct a concussion study on my team, which was a very cool experience,” he explained.
Instead, if the NFL does not open its doors, Rockett plans to pursue a career in business, having done internships in the private equity realm the past two years.