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Bleacher Report – Vikings

Q&A with Derek Sage, who offered WR Josh Doctson his first scholarship

By Andrew Krammer

Note: This is the second in a draft preview series of four interviews delving into the 2016 receiver class, one the Vikings are positioned to pick from this week. They were originally featured in last week’s Purple Podcast.

Q&A with Ohio State WRs coach on Braxton Miller and Michael Thomas

This spring, video of Mike Zimmer working directly with Josh Doctson during TCU’s pro day tickled Vikings followers who want to see a big-bodied receiver added to Teddy Bridgewater’s horizon. Doctson had drawn plenty of attention from the Vikings, including one of their 30 pre-draft visits, and could land in Minnesota during this week’s NFL Draft.

Toledo receivers coach Derek Sage, who was one of two college coaches in the nation to offer Doctson a scholarship out of high school, recently joined the Purple Podcast to shed light on the receiver’s winding path. Basketball was Doctson’s first love, before Sage helped convince him to join the University of Wyoming for football. After one year, family pulled Doctson back to Texas where he walked on at TCU, earned a scholarship and played his way into the NFL Draft’s first-round conversation.

WR Josh Doctson / height: 6-2 / weight: 202 / arms: 31 7/8? / hands: 9 7/8?

Has the size and hands to potentially fill the Vikings’ need at receiver. Named first-team All American last fall after setting a handful of school records at TCU as a senior, including 267 yards against Texas Tech in September. Made a name for himself with acrobatic, highlight-reel grabs in TCU’s spread system. Strengthened his draft case with a strong combine, including the top vertical jump (41?) and top marks in the broad jump (131?) and shuttle runs. Admittedly ran a limited route tree in an air-raid offense. Missed the final three games of the year after injuring his wrist against Kansas on Nov. 14.

Stats: 78 receptions, 1,326 yards and 14 touchdowns in 2015

“I had surgery at the end of November,” Doctson said at the scouting combine. “I was in a long-arm cast for about six weeks. I had two pins to stabilize the arm and bone, and got it removed.”


1500ESPN: You were the first college football coach to work closely with Josh Doctson before he transferred from Wyoming to TCU. If you could recall a few years back, what stood out about his ability as a kid who was still relatively new to football?

DS: “I actually recruited Josh, so I showed up at Mansfield Legacy High School in the spring leading up into his senior year. It was kind of an ironic story, because it was my first trip to Texas recruiting. I recruited Southern California and out in the New York area during my time at New Hampshire, but it was my first trip to Texas. You know, everybody’s dream is to recruit Texas. It was my first school, first stop, actually. I was still kind of a little unfamiliar with the process on [then-Wyoming head coach] Dave Christensen’s policy on offering your own position. Just called Dave up and said ‘Hey, I’ve got a really good receiver out here I like.’ And he says ‘Well, if you like him, then offer him.’

“And obviously throughout the recruiting process, [only Duke and Wyoming] ended up giving him a scholarship. We became close with him and his family and got the kid to [Wyoming]. A unique situation. He was more of a basketball player. He was injured his junior year [of high school], so he didn’t have a lot on tape, which in Texas can hurt you. But there’s something about him I really fell in love with and that’s the way he ran routes, natural pass catcher and I think his basketball tape really showed up on the football field – if that makes any sense. Just the way he can contort his body, stick his foot in the ground and sink his hips; huge hands, big feet and long. You knew he was going to get bigger. It was like a dream come true, to be honest with you.”

1500ESPN: If I read correctly, Josh didn’t begin playing football until his junior year?

DS: “I’m going to say it was his sophomore year, but not really playing and I’d imagine growing into his body at that time. And his junior year he started to excel, then he broke his wrist. Then he came back and it was those first couple of practices that he was out there. The rest is history.”

1500ESPN: What were your first impressions of getting him on the field at Wyoming?

DS: “It translated over to the field and it translated really quick. He came into fall camp and first couple plays, he’s running with the threes and the fours, but in one-on-ones it’s always – ‘who went up to get that ball? Who was the guy who looked like he had springs in his shoes on that one?’ Then it just became more and more and he started climbing his way up to the depth chart until he was a two. I got him into some games and he made a huge catch against Nebraska they actually reviewed on a fade and would’ve made it a three-point ball game, but they took it back. It was clear in a picture I think he still has up on one of his social media pages of the diving catch. And he just took off after that. He was the starting ‘X’ and ended up leading our team in touchdown receptions and yards per catch. His ability to pick up the game, too. Everyone was saying he was a basketball player, but here’s this kid who had a really good football IQ when he got to us, so.”

1500ESPN: You’ve mentioned his route running a few times. What makes that a strength?

DS: “I think it’s his athletic ability. Again, I think it’s some of his hoop game showing up on the field. He’s got a natural ability to sink his hips and not change speed. For a receiver, it’s all about transition. Can you get in and out of your breaks? He has an uncanny ability to get in and out of his breaks. And he’s just a smooth athlete. He kind of glides along. We never put him on a clock, because I didn’t care because he was running by people his true freshman year. I didn’t get too caught up in that. I know we had a speedster out there in [Miami Dolphins WR] Robert Herron at the same time. Everyone was wondering what Robert would run in the 40. He’s going to run fast, but I don’t really care what he runs. When Josh is out there, he’s running by guys. I watched TCU over the past two seasons, watched how he progressed. I went to the combine, actually had a kid at the combine this year from Toledo and got to catch up with Josh. He’s born to play wide receiver. That was kind of one of our talks in the recruiting process – ‘You are a receiver, man. You’re no three guard in any college basketball team right now. Nobody is looking for a power forward or center who is 6-3.’

He’s got pure, natural hands. They’re big, they’re soft. And you put all that together, you’re going to get what you saw out of that TCU offense. I put it to another reporter this way, the things he was doing didn’t surprise anyone in my room [at Toledo], because he’s all over my drill tape. He’s doing the skills and fundamentals exactly the way it’s supposed to be. So when guys say ‘Hey did you see Doctson?’ It’s like, ‘Yeah, we’ve seen him for three years now.’”

1500ESPN: Was it tough to talk him out of basketball, was he initially set on that?

DS: “He did. He did. I think once he knew he was getting trips to colleges, I think he knew football was going to be his meal ticket and he was going to be fully devoted to football. But yeah, he was hung up on basketball for quite a while.”

1500ESPN: What has the draft evaluation process been like for him?

DS: “Josh has a really level head on his shoulders and a great support system from his mom. He was a level headed kid going through the transfer. Everybody goes through guys transferring, but Josh was great. Called up, explained the reasons and was very thankful and appreciative for us giving him a scholarship and the kid is really level headed and grounded. I think maybe the success, I guess, would be surprising to him.”

1500ESPN: Is there another player that reminds you of Josh Doctson and his game?

DS: “If I had to put it as anybody, just as a natural pass catcher, I’d say Larry Fitzgerald. But Larry Fitzgerald has made a living off knowing the game, being smart and being in the right position. Maybe that’s not fair. Josh also presents different things, too. Josh can go up and get the ball. He contorts his body and plays the ball in the air really well. Maybe that’s a stretch, but I think he’ll create some mismatches.”

1500ESPN: What’s one thing you can tell us about Josh that we’re not going to hear about him leading up to the draft?

DS: “You’re not going to hear anything negative about his character, I can tell you that right now. I was in his home. I recruited him. I was there many times. My family was there. I think his mother held my child when my daughter was a baby. It’s a good, solid support system. He’s a good kid. I think he’s really driven and wants to play in the NFL. I think he’s seen what he can do on the national stage in the Big 12 and I think it’s opened his eyes, ‘Hey I can do this at the next level.’ And it’d be a great story for him because he picked up the game so late.”

The post Q&A with Derek Sage, who offered WR Josh Doctson his first scholarship appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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