PULLMAN – Rahmel Dockery tried to make it work at Washington State. Recruited by a different coaching staff and asked to delay his enrollment, Dockery nearly quit the team after coach Mike Leach’s staff asked him to switch to defensive back from his preferred position of wide receiver.
But he stuck with it, redshirted, and was working with the first-team defense at cornerback during 2013 spring practices. Still, he was never really on the same page with the coaching staff and the idea of becoming a full-time member of the WSU secondary.
“I can’t say exactly what his thoughts were and what he bought into,” Leach said. “Some of it was he was just a young guy, sort of working his way through the freshman stuff and kind of finding his way.”
So, Dockery left.
The thought of moving on had been percolating all year and when it became apparent that the differences in opinion between he and the coaching staff about what side of the ball he should play on were irreconcilable, Dockery decided it was time to find a new program.
“As soon as I found out I was switching to corner it didn’t feel right,” Dockery said. “I wanted to leave so that’s when I started looking at options about where to go.”
He stopped going to practice shortly after spraining an ankle and eventually left the team, certain that he would never get the ball back in his hands at WSU. It was former coach Paul Wulff’s staff that recruited Dockery to Pullman as a receiver and Leach had plenty of prospects that wanted to catch balls in the Air Raid.
“They just pretty much told me that they wanted to play their players that they brought it and it was pretty stacked on the depth chart,” Dockery said. “So they already had a lot of receivers.”
Dockery is an outstanding athlete, a 5-foot-10 kid who cleared 7 feet in the high jump as a sophomore at Curtis High in Tacoma and had 2,600 all-purpose yards for the football team as a senior. The Cougars also felt he could be an electric return man.
When Dockery visited Oregon State in high school he felt comfortable with Corvallis and the football program, as did his parents.
“Looking back on it, it seems like it would have been the right decision to come here,” Dockery said. “I kind of wish I did, but I also wish my coaches didn’t get fired as soon as I got there.”
The Beavers coaching staff still wanted him after he left WSU, but would have to wait until he received an associate degree from Tacoma Community College. He eventually made his way to Corvallis, moving in with some old high school teammates that attend OSU.
“For awhile it was like talking about a unicorn,” OSU receivers coach Brent Brennan said. “You had just never seen him.”
Because of the stops and starts to his career, Dockery is still just a sophomore for the Beavers, despite graduating from high school in 2011. But he’s back on the path he always wanted, and the OSU coaches have put the ball in his hands as a receiver, rusher and on punt and kickoff returns.
“He’s doing great. We’re excited he’s here,” Brennan said. “He catches the ball well, he can run and change direction, he’s a good player with the ball in his hands.”
He scored his first career touchdown on a 3-yard pass from Sean Mannion in last week’s loss to California. He also sprained his ankle in that game, but Dockery is already back at practice and he’ll be on the field to face his former teammates when the Beavers host WSU on Saturday, as a receiver.
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