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Of the wide receivers vying for the top spot in the Maryland offense this summer, perhaps no player has more of an edge than Kevin Dorsey.
A junior with two years of experience under his belt, Dorsey could be poised for a breakout season. Already he sits atop of the depth chart for the WR-X position, and his combination of size and speed, Dorsey seems to be making the necessary strides to take the next step in his development.
At 6-2 and 205 pounds, Dorsey is the biggest target among receivers on the squad. In fact, he’s an inch taller than former Terp standout Torrey Smith, which should help him to develop a comfort zone with quarterback Danny O’Brien.
Dorsey made a leap from his first season with the team to his second, finishing the 2010 campaign with 15 catches for 187 yards and two touchdowns, including a 42-yard score against Miami. The burst of speed on that play demonstrated what the coaching staff saw in Dorsey while starring at nearby Forestville High School.
A unanimous four-star prospect, Dorsey was rated
Scout.com’s no. 3 best player in the state of Maryland and the 25th-best wide receiver in the nation. Dorsey grabbed 50 catches for over 900 yards and 11 scores his senior season, as well as an 81-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. A two-way player, Dorsey was also recruited by Connecticut, who at the time was head coached by Randy Edsall.
Now Dorsey will have an opportunity to thrive in a Gary Crowton-led offense, which has produced a number of NFL stars, despite a run-first tendency. Some of the notables include Early Doucet and Brandon LaFell.
After taking control of the Tigers’ offense in 2007, Crowton helped Doucet become the main receiving threat. In his senior season, Doucet racked up 57 receptions for 525 yards and five touchdowns, which translated into being a third-round draft selection by the Arizona Cardinals.
As a sophomore in Crowton’s offense, LaFell started just nine games but led the team in both catches and receiving yards. He caught four touchdowns, averaging more than 13 yards per reception. He took a leap the next season, earning First-Team All-SEC honors for a record campaign. LaFell call 63 passes for more than 900 yards and eight touchdowns, most in the conference that year.
In his final year at LSU, LaFell put together another outstanding year. He grabbed 57 catches for nearly 800 yards and 11 touchdowns, one shy of Dwayne Bowe’s school record. LaFell was then drafted in the third round of the NFL Draft by the Carolina Panthers, where he totaled 468 yards in his rookie season.
Dorsey, Doucet and LaFell are share similar physical statures, and based on Dorsey’s high school resume he has the same talents to be just as effective on the collegiate level. His speed, body control and elusiveness after the catch will be counted on in the coming season.
Although inconsistent in a back-up role last year, Dorsey did show glimpses of his big-play ability. In eight games where Dorsey caught a pass, he averaged more than 10 yards per catch, including three games where he averaged more than 20. Both of his touchdowns were longer than 40 yards, including a 45-yarder in the Military Bowl against East Carolina.
Dorsey was also effective on long down-and-distances. On first-and-eight or longer, Dorsey had seven receptions for 88 yards.
After Darrius Heyward-Bey left the Terps for the NFL waters, Smith emerged in his place as the team’s playmaker. During Heyward-Bey’s final season, though, Smith grabbed just 24 balls for two touchdowns, a similar stat-line to Dorsey in 2010.
Perhaps we can liken Dorsey’s career to Smith’s, who may need more targets during his junior season to emerge as the team’s big-play threat. In 2011 he will have every opportunity to do so.