Dockery to Follow in Watkins Footsteps?

The search for a replacement for Todd Watkins appears to have lead BYU coaches back to the California southlands where they found the receiving phenom in the first place. The leading candidate for the next BYU deep threat has no qualms about filling such big shoes, either.

Palm Desert High School is home to James Dockery, one of the leading wide receivers in the state of California. BYU was one of the first Division I programs to recognize Dockery's star potential, and it appears BYU will be in the thick of things when he makes his final choice on where to attend school.

"Sometime during April or May Coach Higgins came to my school and he took my highlight tape back," said Dockery. "The coaches liked me and they wanted me to come up for the camp. I then went up to their camp for a day."

Recently, Dockery took a trip to the heart of the Wasatch front to attend a camp held at BYU. While there, Dockery was able to see the campus, get a feel for the coaching staff, see the environment and meet BYU's top wide receiver Todd Watkins.

"It was nice" said Dockery. "I met Todd Watkins and had a good time with him. I just talked to him about life at BYU and how it's different because he's from San Diego and I'm from Palm Desert and I've lived in New York and stuff. He and I lived in the cities, but when he went down to BYU it was just a little bit different. He was like if you want to make it to the next level this is a good school to go to because for wide receivers they pass the ball a lot, and they have good standards to keep you focused.

"The facilities are nice, I mean, it's like some high tech stuff. The campus is clean and there isn't even like gum on the campus and it's like really well kept, I mean, it's really clean. It's different than the cities.

"Coach Mendenhall, I know he's a straight forward guy. Todd told me he was straight and that he expects the best from you. If you're going to play football on his team and going to be stepping out onto the field he wants you to give it 100% or give better, so he might be a little hard on you but he's only going to be hard on you because he wants his players to give it their most. That's what I'm definitely looking for. I don't want to go to a program where the coaches are going to let me freelance and do what I want because I'm not going to get better by doing that. I want to learn from these guys because they've been around the league and the game a lot longer than I have. I definitely want to be around coaches where they're hands on and able to teach me all they know,"

So how does Dockery feel about Mendenhall's approach to life and football?

"I want a coach that's going to mold me into a better person, and not only that but someone who's going to mold me into going to the next level because that's my goal," he said.

Dockery sees Watkins as proof that a receiver can thrive in the BYU system to the point of getting serious looks by NFL teams.

"Obviously he can do it and he's a potential first rounder next year, so obviously something has to be working up there," said Dockery.

Watkins also exemplifies to Dockery how a student athlete can benefit from the relatively calm Provo lifestyle.

"I love Todd because I love how he's grounded and focus," Dockery said. "That's like how I see myself being like Todd. That's how I want to be. He's the perfect guy to aim at and he's top 5 in the nation and has a good head on his shoulders and he knows what he wants to do. I'm sure he had offers to go to other places but he choose BYU just for the simple fact he knew they were going to throw the ball and that he's going to have the chance to go to the next level. He wasn't really looking at the other side of it like the fact that, well, they're all Mormon up there and you're not going be able to party up there and all that. That's what I like about him."

So have BYU coaches talked to him about how he would fit into the BYU system?

"Yeah they have," said Dockery. "They want me to come in and take over where Todd leaves off, and if they want me to come in and take this spot I have to believe that I'm a talented enough player and they believe in me enough to where I can play at the next level.

"It makes me feel great because Todd is going into the NFL and that's the ultimate level, and if I can go in there and do what he did and try and put together a couple of seasons like he did then I feel like I'll have that chance to enter the draft. Anytime I step onto that field I don't want to play average. I want to look back and feel like I've done something, like I've achieved something."

Dockery racked up quite the numbers as a defensive player, however, BYU coaches want to groom this talented athlete into a scoring machine. That is something Dockery has no problem with.

"I had 80 tackles on defense with 7 interceptions," Dockery recounted. "I don't really remember my receiving stats but it was around 800-900 yards with probably like 40 receptions. I got 7th in the state as a receiver.

"Yeah, I watch a lot of footage and I try to play like a lot of players. If I can take people deep I'll probably want to do it like Todd does because he's got great hands and he gets off the line really quick and gets into the open field. Then after I catch the ball I probably want to be like Reggie Bush in the open field because he's almost impossible to guard. I can go deep and I can over the middle and I think that's one of my strengths. I played safety on defense and so I'm not afraid to go over the middle and take a couple of hits to catch the ball."

Currently Dockery is receiving quite a bit of attention from some big time programs as he prepares for his final season of prep football. The attention is likely to get heavier as February's Letter of Intent Day draws closer.

"Right now I'm hearing from BYU, Utah State, UCLA, Fresno State, Colorado State, Washington, Oregon State, Cal, Nebraska, Idaho, Idaho State, Sacramento State, Northern Arizona, Arizona State and UTEP," said Dockery. "I have a lot of verbals from those schools. Most of those I named off are verbals, except I haven't gotten a verbal from Washington and UCLA and that's it."

With so many schools looking to secure his services, Dockery has been proactive in touring campuses to get a better look at the schools recruiting him so when the times comes he can make a more informed commitment.

"I've taken a trip already to San Diego State and BYU," he said. "I've also taken a trip to UCLA too. I want to take a trip up to Washington and Oregon State but I'm not sure if that's going to happen. My top five right now, I would say is UCLA, BYU, UTEP, Washington, and San Diego State, and Fresno State is probably in there to somewhere, too."

One advantage that BYU might have over many other colleges is their business program which is exactly what Dockery is looking at as a major in college.

"I'm doing well [academically]," said Dockery. "I got around a 1500 in my SAT too, so yeah I'm good to go. I've qualified and all that.

"You know that's funny because me and Todd, we want to do the same thing. We want to do business and he was telling me that BYU has one of the top 10 business schools in America. He said it was kind of hard to keep it up but he picked the recreational management route, so I'll probably look into that or business administration."

When the time does come for him to pull the trigger and commit to a university, Dockery described three things that would stand out and make the decision easier for him.

"Right now the most important thing I'm probably going to look for is stability with a head coach," he said. "To know that the coach that recruited me is going to be there is important. I want to know who's going to be there when I get there as a mentor. I would love it if Todd was a junior this year then I could come in there and have a whole year to really learn the ropes from him. I would look for someone I could really learn from, and I also would like to win. I love to win."

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