Head coaches overlooked Josh Doctson. Now he overwhelms defensive coordinators. Doctson’s story is the tale of an athlete no one wanted, but is now the one everybody wishes they had.
TCU’s senior wide receiver is the kid from Mansfield that no Division I college football program in Texas wanted. The high school senior wasn’t ranked on ESPN’s RecruitingNation. Doctson, a transfer student from Wyoming, had to walk on for the Horned Frogs.
After his 18-reception, 267-yard and three touchdown performance in TCU’s miraculous 55-52 win against Texas Tech, he’s arguably the best wide receiver in college football. But Doctson’s uprising began innocuously.
He grew up 20 miles from TCU. He became a Horned Frogs fan in his youth and raced on the field of Amon G. Carter Stadium as a member of the Bleacher Creatures — a group of kids who race the length of the field before TCU home games. Rivals.com gave him a three-star ranking his senior year at Mansfield Legacy High School. He accumulated 40 receptions, 604 receiving yards and five touchdowns. He wasn’t recruited by TCU, even though he lived 30 minutes away. He piqued the interests of Wyoming, Tulsa and Duke — none of which are known as football schools. He chose Wyoming.
“You’d like to [recruit him], but you just … he wasn’t overly fast at the time,” TCU head coach Gary Patterson told USA Today earlier this year. “There’s a lot of people who can run in Texas ... Nobody else was recruiting him either.”
His freshman year at Wyoming in 2011, Doctson racked up 35 receptions for 393 yards and five touchdowns. His first was a 7-yard touchdown against TCU. But as his talent grew, his homesickness worsened. After his grandfather was diagnosed with a brain tumor, he breturned home.
“We were going through a lot as a family, myself especially,” Doctson told ESPN in 2014. “I was really hard on myself and just a little bit distracted. That’s really what brought me back to Texas. Family was the number-one thing in my life. I couldn’t see myself spending four years apart from my brother and mom.”
TCU didn’t offer him a scholarship. So he walked on. He couldn’t play his sophomore season due to NCAA transfer rules. Doctson finally played for his dream school in 2013, and he piled up 36 receptions and 440 receiving yards. He emerged as a star his junior season.
He set TCU’s receiving yards record with 1,018 yards, he broke TCU’s touchdown record with 11 touchdowns, and his 65 receptions were one shy of the record set by Josh Boyce in 2012. Doctson’s break-out party against the Red Raiders last Saturday was more than that. It was a show that displayed the validation of an athlete and the evolution of a man.
“He’s the best receiver in college football,” said TCU senior running back Aaron Green after the Texas Tech game. “Everybody knows it.”
Texas defensive coordinator Vance Bedford will have his hands full this weekend. He’ll have three freshman cornerbacks switching off to cover Doctson.
“If I was Josh, I’d be jumping up and down,”Bedford said. “I’d be rubbing my hands, it’s new meat for me today, if I’m Josh.”
Three freshmen covering Doctson is plan A. Beford also has a plan B to cover him: “It’s flip a coin, get on my knees and say a prayer.”
Bedford can double-team Docston and pray all he wants. But when he is on, there is no stopping Doctson’s show.