Doucet Comes Full Circle in Alabama

Before long, LSU fans will be on their feet in Tiger Stadium, applauding and cheering as the team's seniors are announced prior to the start of the day-after-Thanksgiving "Battle for the Boot" against Arkansas.

Among the names that will be called on that occasion will be Early Doucet.

With Louisiana Tech, Mississippi, Arkansas, and at least one postseason game remaining on the schedule for LSU, Doucet is still somewhat in the hunt to become the Tigers' all-time leader in career receptions. It would be nothing short of amazing if he does reach that zenith. After the win over Alabama, Doucet now has 130 career catches. That places him at ninth but still 53 away from Wendell Davis' 183 career receptions.

If not for a freak injury earlier this year, Doucet would likely be within real striking distance at this point: a striking distance that would make his name at No. 1 a foregone conclusion. The fact that he may come up a little short isn't something that bothers Doucet, and whether or not he's the guy the coaches call upon in crunch time isn't something he focuses on.

"Well, I was just going with the game plan," Doucet said of the fourth-and-three play late in the ballgame that resulted in a tying touchdown. "That's the type of guy that I am. I'm really not, you know, a guy that's going to demand the ball in pressure situations. I think the coach has got to have enough confidence in me. You know, if that's what they want to do, they'll do it. As you all could've seen, they had confidence in me, and they came to me."

Down 34-27 with 2:58 showing in the fourth quarter against the Crimson Tide, LSU faced a ‘do-or-die' situation that has become commonplace in 2007 – convert, score, or lose. Matt Flynn, on a fourth-and-three from the Alabama 32-yard line, found Doucet on a short route over the middle that the Tigers' wide receiver took for the distance.

"After I caught the ball and I was untouched," Doucet said. "I seen the guy and he had an angle on me, and I knew I was going to try to set him up and act like I was going to run to the left and cut back and go to the right because it was wide open. He bit on the cutback, and I got in the end zone."

According to Doucet, it was just a routine play that he and quarterback Matt Flynn run all the time.

"We just looked at each other, and he winked at me and I winked back, and we knew it was a play that we ran thousands of times," Doucet said. "So we knew we would be able to execute it."

Without question, Doucet's playing career will extend to Sundays beginning next year. Unless Mobile, Montgomery, Birmingham, or another one of the Yellow Hammer State's burgeoning metropolises experiences a renaissance and lands an NFL franchise, last Saturday will likely be the last time Doucet plays organized football in Alabama. Doucet's late-game heroics brought him full circle.

In the third game of his freshman season, Doucet was on the field as the No. 5 Tigers traveled to the state of Alabama to face No. 14 Auburn. Even as a freshman, one year removed from being the nation's No. 1 recruit at wide receiver, Doucet was the go-to guy, the one coaches had confidence in when things were on the line.

Back on that September day, down 10-9, LSU began a drive on its own 13-yard line with 1:08 remaining on the clock. After six plays, the Tigers faced a third-and-one at the Auburn 44-yard line with just 16 seconds left in the fourth quarter. JaMarcus Russell dropped back and rifled a pass to Doucet. But Doucet didn't make the catch, didn't haul in the reception that would have given the Tigers a first down and set up a potential game-winning field goal. Instead, the ball ricocheted off of his hands and was intercepted by Auburn's Junior Rosegreen.

Two years later, Doucet was the focal point of just one of a bevy of controversial calls at Auburn. This time he was held on an attempted pass. Auburn was flagged for pass interference, but the flag was waved off. The No. 6 Tigers went on to lose to the nation's No. 3 team, 7-3.

No, last Saturday didn't offer redemption on The Plains for Doucet, but it did run LSU's mark against teams from Alabama during his tenure to 7-2. That includes a win over Troy but, more importantly, a 4-0 record versus Alabama. For Doucet, making the necessary catch and scoring the necessary touchdown in his final game on the road, facing an Alabama team, was a fitting ending.

"It's real big to go back and play those two teams and come out with a victory against Auburn and against Alabama," Doucet said. "It's just a great feeling to be a part of this team and to be able to play in games like this."

At some point against the Bulldogs, Doucet will probably grab a third reception to surpass Tony Moss on LSU's all-time career reception list. He'll likely catch Craig Davis against Mississippi to move to seventh. Four games, maybe five left, and Doucet needs to surpass those guys – Jarel Myers (149), Eric Martin (152), Dwayne Bowe (154), Josh Reed (167), and Michael Clayton (182) – before reaching Davis.

Perhaps the most consoling and sobering part about the entire situation is that Doucet doesn't care about it. Dressed to the nines in a black suit and crimson tie following the Tigers' 41-34 victory over Alabama, Doucet wasn't relishing his game-tying touchdown catch, wasn't focusing on the win that has his team in driver's seat for the SEC Championship Game and a potential berth in the national championship. By the time postgame interviews were winding down, Doucet was already doing what he does best: focusing on the next play, the next step.

"We're going to put this game behind us and look forward to playing LA Tech and continue to take it one week at a time," Doucet said.

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