Hurricanes WR Phillip Dorsett feeling confident after big game vs. FAMU
CORAL GABLES, Fla. — University of Miami senior wide receiver Phillip Dorsett wasn’t supposed to get the ball. He ran a post route, but the look Florida A&M’s defense provided meant Dorsett would need to split two players.
When true freshman quarterback Brad Kaaya threw to the end zone Saturday night on the heavy play action, Dorsett initially thought the ball might sail out.
"But as I got closer to it, I knew I was going to be able to get to it," Dorsett said. "My focus was on getting to the ball. I wasn’t even worried about my feet ’cause I can’t worry about that and catching the ball at the same time."
Added Kaaya: "Clive (Walford) ran a set corner and safety cheated up on it, saw his hips turn for two seconds and stepped into it and back of end zone where only Phil could get it. I knew Phil would beat his corner."
Dorsett would dive forward for the 32-yard touchdown — his second of the game — with 2:02 remaining before halftime of Miami’s 41-7 victory.
For just the second time of his career, Dorsett scored twice in a game. On Sept. 29, 2012, Dorsett caught seven passes for 191 yards and two touchdowns against N.C. State.
"It was good," Dorsett said. "I felt good, but I have to keep going, take every game one by one and hopefully we can just keep improving."
Last season on Oct. 17, the 5-foot-10, 195-pounder sustained a partial knee tear at North Carolina. He would miss the next five weeks after starting five of the first six games of 2013. Although Dorsett was dressed for Pittsburgh and Louisville, he did not catch a pass in limited action.
Prior to the injury, Dorsett led the team with 20.9 yards per catch. He collected 13 receptions for 272 yards and two touchdowns. He was also a returner on special teams.
During spring practice, he still wasn’t at 100 percent. Dorsett learned to trust the process and be patient, slowly seeing the results. By summer, he had fully returned. His speed — to the tune of a 4.2 40-yard dash — came back. His route running picked up.
"If you look at Phillip, he has the best all-around game that he’s had right now not just vertical game but in and out, quick game, slants," head coach Al Golden said.
If Dorsett needed any indication he was once again fully healthy, Saturday’s game provided the final proof with three catches for 44 yards and two touchdowns. The last, as Golden described, was "full body control."
All-ACC running back Duke Johnson, who got hurt two weeks after Dorsett at Florida State, saw the gradual improvement over the long summer days. Both players worked their way back together.
"It feels good just being out here every day with him in the summer, how hard he worked and how much he prides himself in catching the ball and running after the catch," Johnson said. "To see him make the catches he made in the game was awesome."
Once a three-star recruit out of Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas, Dorsett broke through his sophomore year with 58 catches, 842 yards and four touchdowns in 12 games (10 starts). He subsequently earned All-ACC honors.
It made last year’s injury even more frustrating after his success. In the season opener at Louisville, Dorsett caught a pass for 39 yards — his first since that Thursday night against the Tar Heels before he got hurt — a span of seven games. Saturday showed glimpses of Dorsett’s pre-injury self.
"Just not having the pain anymore," Dorsett said. "That’s all it was. For me, it was a pain thing. The injury lingered because I kept trying to come back early and kept getting hurt and bringing back. It’s basically me getting my confidence back and getting my cuts right and speed all the way back. Once I got that back, I don’t even think about it anymore."