Scooter revs up for return from knee injuryWritten by Scott McKimmy | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Rockets running back Scooter McDougle wants to hit somebody. Hard.
Nobody kicked his dog; nobody stepped on his midnight-blue suede shoes. The junior hopeful is just itching to resume play after a long time-out that began during his biggest game ever at the end of last year.
That’ll happen when you’re all pumped up in the middle of a Mid-American Conference (MAC) championship. You make a game-breaking play, and the next thing you know you’re being hauled off the field with a knee injury.
“I’m hoping by Wednesday or Thursday that I can do some kind of hitting anything,” McDougle said after practice last week. “I’ve been doing a lot of running and working out with the strength coach. I have a real good chance of playing the first game.”
While he proved to be “the difference maker” in the final three games of the ’04 season, according to Brian DeBenedictis, University of Toledo assistant director of media relations for the athletic department, the backfield’s a little crowded with two seniors, a sophomore and a freshman ahead of McDougle on the preseason depth chart.
Until now he has been watching his teammates make full contact from the sidelines, anxious for the go-ahead from the coaches to pop a few pads.
But that didn’t stop him from eyeing the conference title at the end of this season, an uphill journey so far for a player deemed “Super Prospect” by College
Sports.com. McDougle sat out once before during all of 2003 because of academic restrictions, and then racked up eight touchdowns in 12 games the following year, averaging 4.2 yards per carry and 9.3 yards per reception.
Now he’s looking straight ahead while “one of the worst injuries of his career” fades into the distance.
“I can’t wait for this year,” he said. “I hope the seniors go out with a MAC championship, and I’m really hoping that I can go out with a MAC championship next year.”
Yet the view for McDougle remains blocked by numbers — big, gold and blue numbers such as 38, Trinity Dawson; 33, Jalen Parmele; 23, Quinton Broussard; and 27, Richard Davis. Dawson, Parmele and Broussard averaged between four and five yards per carry last year, and Davis comes off a season as a red shirt already in the habit of winning after USA Today ranked his high school team as high as No. 1 in the state and No. 2 in the country.
Plus the Rockets are grooming a brand-new talent, DaJuane Collins, a Jersey kid whom DeBenedictis said probably will red shirt this year and stay low on the depth chart.
So can we say the Rockets pretty much have their running game covered with great depth? Sounds more like an ocean of talent rather than a pool, especially when you mix it with quarterback Bruce Gradkowski?
The Rockets are an exception within their division because of their backfield depth. Just ask McDougle, who knows he’s bumping elbows this year with some pretty productive fellow ball carriers.
“This year will set me up for next year, but we’ve got a lot of good players this year and a lot of players coming back next year,” he said.