Last year at this time, one of the hottest names in Michigan's receiving ranks was Doug Dutch. After turning in an outstanding spring in 2005, it was thought that the former Army All-American would made a serious push to add his great speed to the rotation the following fall. Unfortunately, a slow start and an early season illness limited his production and he finished the year having caught only four passes for 34 yards. Despite his disappointment over his lack of playing time last season, Dutch has chosen not to hang his head.
"It was all a big learning experience for me," he said. "Everybody goes through ups and downs. I went through some downs last year. I'm just looking to go through some ups this year. That's basically it. I worked hard in the summer time so I'm just looking to compete once again to earn a spot in the fall.
Maintaining that positive outlook isn't something Dutch achieved on his own. He had a strong support system to lean on when times got rough.
"God was number one in my life," he said. "Second came my family and my friends. My teammates helped pull me through it too. Everybody knows that I can play. It's just a matter of me building my confidence back up and playing like I know I'm capable."
The D.C. native has flashed big play potential in practice over the years, but he hasn't done it on a steady basis. Now his coaches are looking for more consistency and for him to carry that practice-field explosiveness over to the Big House on Saturdays."
"Doug Dutch is a guy that has a lot of ability," Michigan head coach Lloyd Carr said. "He just hasn't brought it to the field yet, and we need him to do that."
"I had to improve on certain aspects of my game," Dutch added regarding why his practice exploits haven't translated to game day success. "Coach Campbell coached me through that. I just had to realize what I had to do so I can play more. I just have to put all of my mechanics together and put all of the things that I do well together at one time so I can be consistent."
Dutch knows that he still has a lot to prove during a fall in which there are clearly openings in the receiver rotation, but also a great deal of talent competing for them. At this point, however, Dutch's primary concerns center around making sure he continues to work hard and that the entire corps is the best it can be.
"The starting positions are always up for grabs, but we're not worried that right now," Dutch said. "We're just all worried about tried to get better a whole. We're all ready to compete and we're trying to work to be the best crew in the nation. We were all pushing each other out there in workouts in the summer time. Going into camp we just want to compete and be the best that we can be as a whole so we can go out there and go for our goals of winning a national championship and a Big Ten championship."