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OSUs Doggett comes into his own

Now a father of twin girls, junior linebacker has elevated his game
by: , DOGGETT

CORVALLIS - Football has never been more important than it is right now for Derrick Doggett.

But there is something else that commands the Oregon State linebacker's attention - 9-month-old twin daughters Akayla and Akyla.

Their mother, Danielle White, works at Nike and lives in Portland, 'so I don't get to see them as much as I'd like,' says Doggett (pronounced Dog-GET), a 6-3, 210-pound junior who will start for the Beavers when they play host to Idaho Saturday at Reser Stadium. 'But I see them every chance I get on the weekends, or when Danielle brings them down (to Corvallis).

'It feels good to be a dad. It's motivating. I get to play for both me and my family now.'

Doggett has represented well so far this season, leading the Beavers in tackles with 15, including 13 in their Sept. 7 loss at Boise State. The San Diego native had two tackles, a tackle for loss, a sack and a fumble recovery in limited duty in OSU's season-opening rout of Eastern Washington.

In the three years since arriving in Corvallis as a 170-pound true freshman in 2003, Doggett - who turns 22 on Dec. 31 - has matured from boy to young man.

'Derrick has elevated his life in every area,' coach Mike Riley says. 'I'm really proud of his growth and excited for his future.'

As a standout senior middle linebacker/receiver/running back at University City High, Doggett threw his 165 pounds around enough to impress Beaver coaches and earn a scholarship offer on athleticism and potential. In turn, Doggett fell in love with Corvallis on his recruiting visit.

'I had other schools interested, but when (Oregon State) offered me, I knew I wanted to come here,' he says. 'I liked the coaches, but I especially liked the environment. It's a college town like what I'd seen on TV and in movies.'

Too slight to play major college linebacker, Doggett redshirted his first year and displayed an unsettled attitude that had OSU coaches wondering if he might decide to transfer. He came back, though, and became a special teams regular as a redshirt freshman in 2004.

Last season, as he continued to gain strength and weight, he split time with Andy Darkins at outside linebacker and started five games while remaining a stalwart on special teams. Doggett blocked three punts in his first two seasons.

Since spring practice, Doggett has been the best linebacker in the program and, in many ways, a new man.

'I'm more focused,' he says. 'I learned a lot about the game from (departed linebackers) Keith Ellison and Trent Bray. I'm putting more time into football, studying (video), getting myself better. I'm like a whole new player.'

Doggett has put on 40 pounds in three years without sacrificing his speed. When the Beavers were timed in the 40 last spring, his 4.41 clocking was second on the team behind safety Sabby Piscitelli's 4.39.

'Before I came to college, I had never lifted weights before - ever,' Doggett says. 'Since I got here, I started lifting and eating more, and it's been a good thing. I haven't gotten slower.'

Riley says Doggett's progress has been exponential.

'It took Derrick a couple of years to turn the corner and say to himself, 'This is what I want to do,' ' Riley says. 'Since that happened, he has become a well-respected member of our team. He's just scratching the surface of how good a player he's going to be. He has some very tangible athletic gifts. He has great speed and is extremely tough. He'll throw his body around. It's not a big body for a linebacker, but it's getting bigger.

'He's turned his academic situation around. He's a great weight-room guy, a great team guy. I have a lot of respect for what he means to this team as both a person and a player.'

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On the Web

Go to www.localnewsdaily.com for continuing Beaver coverage, including Saturday night's OSU-Idaho game story by Kerry Eggers.