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Clark: Muhammad-Rogers counting his blessings

Richards QB Hasan Muhammad Rogers looks down field for an open man 7on7. Worsom Robinson/For Sun-Times Media.

Richards QB Hasan Muhammad Rogers looks down field for an open man in the 7on7. Worsom Robinson/For Sun-Times Media.

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Updated: July 23, 2014 6:50AM



Memorial Day weekend was supposed to be a lazy weekend for Hasan Muhammad-Rogers.

On Sunday night, he was hanging out with buddies he’s known since he was in kindergarten, guys such as Spencer Tears.

Monday morning, he was at a barbecue at his dad’s house in Dolton. Then his life changed.

According to a Sun-Times story, it started when words were exchanged between someone in a gold Chrysler 300 and a male bicyclist. But the car and the cyclist moved on and that seemed to be it — until the car returned to the block and someone inside started shooting.

Three people were hit: a 12-year-old boy, a 21-year-old man and Muhammad-Rogers.

Muhammad-Rogers is a rising senior at Richards, prepping for his third season as the starting quarterback for the Bulldogs, who are the returning runners-up in Class 6A. He is one of the state’s most dynamic players, a dual-threat QB with a powerful and accurate arm and the speed and elusiveness to turn broken plays into big gains.

But on that Monday morning, he was a scared teenager fearing not only for his football career but for his life.

“I thought it was all over,” he said Saturday during a break in Richards’ 7-on-7 tournament. “I didn’t know what was going to happen, if I was going to wake up the next morning or not.”

If you can say anyone who goes through something like this is fortunate, Muhammad-Rogers is.

“It caught in my abdomen,” he said of the bullet. “They said it was good I had strong abs.”

The physical scar is still there on his stomach, visible below the cut-off shirt he wore Saturday. The mental scar? You have to figure that one will take a long time to heal, both for Muhammad-Rogers and everyone else in the Bulldogs’ camp.

“It was crazy,” said Tears, one of Muhammad-Rogers’ top receivers. “... To wake up to a call like that was real scary.

“All we could do is pray with him. But I’m glad he’s recovered. All I can say is he’s blessed. Anyone who can come from an incident like that and be full strength, ready to play — it’s nothing but God. He’s blessed.”

Tony Sheehan, Richards’ coach, got the same kind of call and had the same reaction.

“It’s a scary world out there and it can happen to anyone,” Sheehan said. “It hits home when it’s one of your kids.”

And even more so when it’s you.

“Now I look at life a lot different,” Muhammad-Rogers said. “I appreciate the blessings I get. I count my blessings a lot and I love my team.”

So much so that he missed exactly one day of summer practice after getting shot.

“That next day, I got to camp, I was like, ‘Coach, I got to practice,’ ” Muhammad-Rogers said. “So I come in, work hard, try to get back to 100 percent.”

“He wanted to jump right in and go full speed,” said Sheehan, for whom caution was the by-word: “Ease him into some things and give him more breaks than usual. But he’s still working hard, once he got clearance.”

There Muhammad-Rogers was on Saturday, hitting one receiver in stride half a field away or threading a needle to find another one between two defenders.

It’s what a kid with his abilities should be doing, instead of looking over his shoulder.

“Wrong place, wrong time,” he said of Memorial Day. “I got hit and got up and ran like, ‘Oh no, not here!’ ”

But it can happen anywhere. And that scar on Muhammad-Rogers’ stomach is more sad proof of that.



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