Doucet grabs No. 1 wideout spot after three seasons

By Jerit Roser The Daily Reveille

August 27, 2007

Baton Rouge, LA (CSTV U-WIRE) -- After sharing receiving responsibilities with Dwayne Bowe and Craig "Buster" Davis for three years, Early Doucet is now the clear go-to-guy - not only as a playmaker but also as a veteran leader.

But Doucet has dealt with high expectations in the past.

"Being able to play on the varsity as a freshman ... and playing in big games ... has prepared me to be able to handle tough situations and how to handle it the right way," he said.

Late in a second-round game of the Louisiana high school football state playoffs, then-St. Martinville High School coach Carroll Delahoussaye found himself cruising to an easy victory when he decided to replace his starting quarterback with a freshman receiver - Early Doucet.

St. Martinville began from their own 9-yard-line when Delahoussaye said he and his offensive coordinator called a play in which Doucet would keep the ball. Delahoussaye said his son, an assistant coach, joked that Doucet would probably just go 91 yards.

Moments later, Doucet scored a 91-yard rushing touchdown, and the rest has been history.

Doucet went on to play three successful seasons as St. Martinville's leader - primarily at quarterback.

Doucet was the top receiving prospect in the country his senior season according to Scout.com. He almost committed to Miami before deciding upon LSU, according to his high school coach and older sister Carla Jean Batiste.

Now a collegiate senior, Doucet comes into the 2007 season as a veteran leader on the No. 2 team in the country and the lone returning member of one of the most talented receiving trios of 2006.

A lot of pressure come with the team's high ranking, but Doucet is confident the team can live up to the challenge.

"We've just got to take it one game at a time, and if we do that and play the football we're capable of playing, I think the sky's the limit for us," Doucet said. And he is helping younger receivers adapt to the pressures of college football.

Freshman R.J. Gillen said Doucet has helped improve his route-running.

"It's great practicing with a player who knows so much," Gillen said.

Doucet said he learned to fill the mentor role from first-round draft picks Bowe and Davis.

For the Tigers to contend for their second national championship in five years, Doucet will also have to produce on the field.

Senior cornerback Chevis Jackson said Doucet is up to the task.

"[Doucet] is just as good as [Bowe or Davis] ... and I think [Doucet] is one of the best receivers in the conference," Jackson said.

ESPN columnist Todd McShay ranked Doucet the best receiver in the entire nation.

"Doucet is a home-run threat with good size and excellent speed," McShay wrote in an ESPN.com article Aug. 10.

If Doucet can realize this potential, he could also cement his stature as one of the greatest receivers in LSU history.

Doucet's statistics have improved each season. He compiled eight touchdowns and 772 yards on 59 receptions in 2006 compared to seven touchdowns and 646 yards on 44 receptions.

With a similar season this year, he would graduate with better statistics than Davis and could thrust himself into the company of Bowe, Wendell Davis, Michael Clayton and Josh Reed near the top of the receiving records list.

He has already endeared himself to LSU fans with a knack for coming up big in important situations.

This past season, Doucet managed to free himself in the end zone for a game-winning touchdown pass from No. 1 draft pick JaMarcus Russell with nine seconds left against rival Tennessee.

Doucet then came up big again in this past year's 41-14 Allstate Sugar Bowl victory, torching Notre Dame's secondary for 115 yards on eight catches.

But when asked about his most memorable game as a Tiger, Doucet points further back.

Doucet was instrumental in a come-from-behind, season-opening victory against Arizona State in his sophomore season, catching the game-winning touchdown on a 39-yard reception.

"I would say the Arizona State game [was my favorite moment] because that was after everything that happened with [Hurricane] Katrina," Doucet said. "For us to just go out there and win the game, and the way we did it, where we were down and continued to fight just like the people in New Orleans did when they were faced with adversity. [That] was not just a big momentum booster for the state of Louisiana, but for our football team as well."

(C) 2007 The Daily Reveille via CSTV U-WIRE

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