We've heard the line in movies and NFL Films productions, but Marshall's season opening game versus Appalachian State was truly "The game Demetrius Doss had waited his whole life for."
Throughout his Marshall career, Marshall receiver Demetrius Doss has had many labels, but none would be as important as the label he was about to take on in the 2002 season. That label was one he had waited his entire playing career for: "Contributing member of a championship team."
Demetrius Doss entered the 2002 campaign with barely a whisper of his name, but that was not always the case. Doss caught the eye of Marshall coaches during 1997, while earning Virginia High School All-State honors at Atlantic Shores High in Virginia Beach. His season totals were impressive, 28 receptions for 536 yards and eight touchdowns.
Doss's TD against ASU was the one he'd been waiting almost 4 years for.
"It was crazy, it was the first and the only time I had played high school football. I was always a basketball player," said Doss. "I didn't play football my freshman, sophomore, or junior year. The high school coach had been after me to play football, because he said I had a football body. Once I realized I wasn't going to get any looks as a basketball player, I decided to do it."
Doss immediately made his football abilities known. His first catch was a 77 yard touchdown reception, which he caught over two defenders. From that point on the letters started to just roll in from all parts of the country, but it was going to be schools close to home that would show the most interest. North Carolina, Virginia, Pittsburgh, and Maryland all showed interest, but none would offer a scholarship because he had a perceived lack of speed.
"Marshall, I don't know how they found me," said the six foot three inch, 215 pound senior wide out. "They came in late. Coach (Gunter) Brewer came and visited my school in December ('97), and then all of a sudden I started receiving this Randy Moss stuff in the mail. All I knew about Randy Moss was that he had jumped over a couple of guys at Army."
Doss enrolled at Marshall in the fall of 1998, and was considered to be one of the most athletically gifted players in that year's recruiting class. However, four years later Doss had only amassed 5 catches for just 65 yards, hardly what anyone on the coaching staff had expected.
"I wanted my high school number, which is number 5. Coach Brewer talked me into wearing 88, because he thought I had that much talent. It was hard at first, but right now I am content with it, because I hold higher expectations for myself than other people have for me."
The expectations of the coaching staff may not have been met, but the harshest reality may have come from the fans. Doss received flak for almost every little mistake. Fans saw the young sophomore against Liberty in 1998, receiving a personal foul penalty for excessive celebration after a routine catch. Fans noticed and let everyone know that Demetrius Doss was having problems catching the football.
"When I first got here, of course, I heard the Randy Moss jokes. Up until the spring I was hearing the little jokes and I sort of just used it as motivation. Other people tell me what people are saying, and so I just use it as motivation," Doss said.
"This year was more important to me because all through my college career I was just a bunch of potential. I trained like crazy. Two-a-days came and I was on a mission. I was trying to make plays and embarrass the person in front of me." For Doss the hard work would pay off. He started to catch not only the eye of wide receivers coach Dewayne Nunez, but the head man Bob Pruett also began to take notice. Not only would he play, but he would finally contribute to the Thundering Herd's success when he scored his first touchdown in a Herd uniform against Appy State. A moment for which he had waited four years.
"Once I saw how they were playing me and how they set up to the ball, I knew Byron was going to come to me," said Doss "I learned through studying film and looking at tape over and over that I was going to get the football."
"It's been a long time, since high school. I was just glad I got the monkey of my back and was happy that my mom and grandma got to see me score my first touchdown."
What seemed like a high point would quickly turned into a low point for the senior. He was blocking on a play in the second half when the unthinkable happened: The wideout had broken his left collar bone.
"I thought it was a stinger and I thought it would work itself out. I stayed in for another play, and it was a running back screen. I went to block my man, and I realized that I couldn't move my left arm. The only player Butchie had to beat on the play was my man and all I was thinking was, ‘Lord, please don't let Butchie get tackled by my man because I don't want to hear about it when I get to the sidelines."
Doss' condition was diagnosed in the locker room by the team's training and medical staffs, and thoughts of his senior season as a contributing member of a championship team came crashing down.
Expecting to return by the Buffalo contest in October, that gives Doss nine games to contribute to the Herd's success.
"I think this injury has definitely increased my determination. I am more hungry now than I was at the beginning of the season."