Bucannon brothers on same team for 1st time

DAVID BUCANNON

PULLMAN – The notion of playing college football alongside your brother is so powerful that Ray Jackson opted to take a redshirt season midway through his Cougar career in order to guarantee himself two seasons in crimson with brother Chris. The move, he said, made both of them better players – and helped propel the Cougars to the 1998 Rose Bowl.

Another pair of celebrated Cougar brothers, Hamza and Husain Abdullah, said the idea of having someone always covering your back, on and off the field, was one of the great perks of playing together.

Now a new brother combo is going to be knocking heads in the Cougar secondary.

Incoming freshman safety David Bucannon says the opportunity to play on the same field as his brother Deone, a junior-to-be, is "priceless."


DEONE BUCANNON

"Growing up, I didn't get to play with Deone," said the younger Bucannon, a 3-star safety out of Vanden High in Fairfield, Calif. "When I got called up from junior varsity in high school, Deone had just gotten hurt, so we never had that opportunity."

David arrived in Pullman two weeks ago to get a jumpstart on classes and voluntary summer workouts.

He acknowledged that he has a steep hill to climb if he expects to see the field on Saturdays this season.

"Coming in as a freshman, I'm gonna have to work really hard in the classroom and on the field in order to get out there on game day; something I very much intend on doing," said Bucannon, who was the very first verbal commitment in WSU's 2012 class of recruits.

Ironically, Deone didn't have a direct hand in David's decision to follow in his footsteps.

"There is something magical happening up here in Pullman," David Bucannon said. "Deone didn't have anything to do with my decision to attend. I just knew watching the last couple years that I could come in here and help make phenomenal things happen."

David tallied 127 tackles last season at Vanden High and earned first-team All-State honors from FOX SportsNet. Deone, meanwhile, was the Cougars' second-leading tackler, behind Alex Hoffman-Ellis, with 80 stops. A year earlier, as a true freshman, he was the Cougs' top tackler with 84 total.

"Being able to have my bro around to learn from is great," David said. "I can learn from stories he tells me. I can try to avoid making mistakes he may have made, and most of all I can learn from his habits and learn how to be successful."

SOME NOTABLE COUGAR FOOTBALL BROS.


Ray and Chris Jackson, Santa Ana: Starters on the 1998 Rose Bowl team

Hamza and Husain Abdullah, Pomona: Combined, spanned 2001-07 at WSU before long NFL careers

Fred and Josh Shavies, Oakland: Both on 2003 Rose Bowl team; Fred a starter

Pat and Dan Lynch, Spokane: Starters on the 1981 Holiday Bowl team; Dan was later AP All-American

Ken and Ron Collins, Cashmere: Ken was a 1981 Holiday Bowl starter; Ron a fixture in the mid 80s

Vince and Chris Leighton, Spangle: From 1982 through 1987, the Cougars were not without a Leighton playing tight end.

Sam, Tony and Steve Busch, Colton: Steve was first-team all-conference twice and first-team All-Coast in 1971

Gary and Chuck Morrell, Downey: Chuck was first-team all-conference and All-Coast in 1958

Lloyd, Homer and Mel Hein, Burlington: Mel was a Hall of Famer and 1931 Rose Bowler, but he was preceded at WSU by Lloyd and followed by Homer

Buster and Don Hollingbery, Pullman: Babe's sons played on their dad's last two teams in crimson.

Hamza and Husain Abdullah, Pomona: Combined, spanned 2001-07 at WSU before long NFL careers

Henry, Roy and Dick Hanley, Spokane : Dick and Roy starred on 1916 Rose Bowl team

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One thing he won't do is compare himself with Deone, who is expected to be an honors candidate this season.

"Growing up, we never compared each others abilities," Bucannon said. "We play two different styles. If I try to play his game, it would hurt my game."

Deone agrees.

"The comparisons and expectations of David shouldn't exist," Deone Bucannon said. "He needs to be himself. I played as a freshman, but that was a completely different situation. David needs to play his own game.

"I expect David to come in and work as hard as he possibly can," Bucannon said. "Being able to play with David will not only push the both of us, but it will make the both of us better players in the long run."

IF THEY'RE ANYTHING LIKE THE last pair of brothers that played safety for the Cougs, WSU defensive coordinator Mike Breske should be all smiles. The Abdullah brothers collectively spanned the 2001 to 2006 seasons on the Palouse and each went on to play significant roles in the NFL.

For Hamza, having his little brother in Pullman and more importantly on the field with him was "unbelievable."

"This is my roommate, my best friend," he said. "I always knew he was going to have my back."

One instance sticks out for Hamza more than any other.

"I'll never forget, down at ASU on Pat Tillman night, I got beat really bad," Hamza said. "It wasn't even Husain's assignment, but he came over the top and made the play on a deep ball. He had my back when he didn't even have to be there."

Hamza said that play epitomizes what playing with your brother is all about.

"He had my back, and I'd always have his. That's what brothers are for," Abdullah said.

While having his brother on campus was a blessing, Hamza added that for Husain, things might have been a little different.

"I never let him do anything until his homework was done," the older brother said. "He'd be halfway out the door and I'd call him back in. I made sure to look after him."

Hamza also credits Husain for keeping him in Pullman.

"With coach (Mike) Price leaving, and coming off an ACL injury, I planned on transferring to wherever Husain committed to out of high school," Hamza said. "When he committed to Washington State, I knew he could help me make it through this coaching change and injury."

The brothers remain close. In fact, they made national headlines recently when they announced they were each suspending their NFL careers to embark on a pilgrimage to Mecca as part of their Islamic faith. Before they head overseas, however, they plan to make another type of pilgrimage: to Provo on August 30 to see the Cougars' season opener against BYU.

FOR CHRIS AND Ray Jackson, the brotherly dynamic was a bit different because the not only played different positions, but positions that had them squaring off against each other in practice. Ray was a defensive back and Chris a receiver.

Ray, the older of the two, said having his brother and best friend on the same field made both of them better players.

"It was very easy to cheer for him, Even though he made me look silly in practice from time to time, he was still my best friend," said Ray, who is now the police chief in Center Grove, Ind.

Chris agreed and said going into battle together each Saturday was something very special.

"Going down to USC or Oregon and winning a big game with my brother was so rewarding," said Chris. "I'll never forget the embrace we shared after the '97 Apple Cup. All of our hard work had come to fruition. I was going to the Rose Bowl with my best friend."

Chris, who had 185 receiving yards and two touchdowns in the '97 Apple Cup, said the win was even more rewarding because both brothers shared success in the game.

"It would be one thing if I had a good game, but for Ray to go out and grab a big interception (off Brock Huard), it was special." he said.

"Ray made me a better player and he was my number-one fan," said Chris Jackson, who played briefly in the NFL and then turned in a hall of fame-type career in the Arena League. "He came to three or four of my games every year when I was in Arena Football. Being able to hand him a touchdown catch was an amazing feeling."

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