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CORAL GABLES (CBSMiami/AP) — It’s been an interesting few years for the Miami Hurricanes’ top receiver.
In 2012, Phillip Dorsett’s pride was hurt.
In 2013, it was his knee.
This year, nothing has slowed the speedy Miami wide receiver.
At his current pace, Dorsett would be headed to the NCAA record book at season’s end. He’s averaging 34.4 yards per catch, leading the nation by a wide margin and a figure that’s 2.5 yards better than anyone at the top level of college football has ever managed over the course of a full season with at least 30 receptions.
For a player who was maligned for dropping a pair of sure-fire touchdowns in a nationally televised, prime-time, Miami debacle against Notre Dame two years ago, then saw his junior season wrecked at midseason by a torn knee ligament, everything is finally going his way.
“Everybody goes through slumps,” Dorsett said. “I don’t care who you are, you’re going to go through something that’s going to just change your life and make you a better person. Honestly, I’m happy that happened to me. Going through that, I know what to expect. I know what I can take. And honestly, nothing can get to me anymore.”
Apparently, that includes defenders.
Dorsett has 16 catches, which doesn’t rank among the top five on his team and is a total exceeded by 352 other players so far this season at the Football Bowl Subdivision level. But the story with Dorsett isn’t the number of touches — and rather, what he’s doing with them.
All but three of his catches have gone for at least 20 yards. He had a 201-yard game on just four grabs earlier this season, and a 143-yard, three-catch game against Cincinnati earlier this month. When Miami (4-3, 1-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) heads into a very big Coastal Division game at Virginia Tech (4-3, 1-2) on Thursday night, the Hokies are most assuredly going to be gameplanning for Dorsett’s speed.
“He’s gone from talented to skilled,” Miami coach Al Golden said. “Skilled route runner, skilled with the ball in his hands after a catch. We knew he could take the top off of it and get deep. Now you’re seeing him do really nice things (with the) run after catch. And then his leadership has been awesome. He won the offseason program, dominated this summer. He’s really been a starter and a leader for us wire-to-wire. He’s a strong presence for us right now.”
He’s worth watching. And that doesn’t just mean by scouts and fans.
It means sometimes, his own teammates tend to marvel at what he does.
Here’s an example: During the game against Cincinnati, Miami offensive lineman Jon Feliciano saw the ball in the air, then basically stopped blocking and turned all his attention to what was happening 40 yards downfield.
“You knew Phillip was catching it,” Feliciano said, “and you knew Phillip was gone.”
Sure enough, Dorsett snared Brad Kaaya’s pass in stride, easily outran a defender and was in the end zone for another Miami big-play touchdown.
“Fun to watch,” Feliciano said.
Dorsett went over the career 100-catch mark in his last game, and is closing in on 2,000 yards for his Miami career. He’s aware of his gaudy average, but insists that the numbers aren’t driving him.
It’s his final season, and he’s determined to make sure he leaves Miami in a better place than when he arrived.
“Being hurt, getting hurt last year, it humbles you a lot,” Dorsett said. “You know that the season can be done just like that. So I’m taking advantage of every opportunity. You don’t get many of them.”
(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)
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