Stanford has fewer and fewer head-to-head battles with Washington in the recruiting wars these days, as the academic pools of top athletic talents in the Northwest have been weak the last couple years. One of the last big battles came two years ago when Vancouver (WA) offensive line standout David Beall was caught between the two dueling programs. The Card pulled out a late, close victory in January 2002, but the next battle was already brewing as then-sophomore offensive tackle Bobby Dockter was making a big name in the Northwest. He earned honorable mention honors that year and was being whispered as one of the top OL talents from the region in several years. He followed up with a huge junior year, leading his injury-riddled Kamiak High School team to an excellent 8-2 season and earning first team individual honors as All-Area. Dockter was also named by the Tacoma News-Tribune as a "Northwest Nugget in Waiting," the highest honor they bestow upon the region's juniors.
Dockter played left tackle throughout the season, as well as some defensive tackle and long snapping. Though he has played center before, he knows his future at 6'5 1/2" and 278 pounds lies outside. "I'm pretty quick and can outmaneuver guys, and I think I was pretty effective at center," he evaluates. "But I kinda like offensive tackle. I'm getting my pass blocking down pretty well now. I think I'm effective because of my technical prowess, which I credit in part due to the work I got in some camps. Overall I think I work hard, though. I'm just trying to work hard, play well, get big and bust my butt."
Though just a rising senior, the talented tackle from Mukilteo (WA) says that he feels pretty good about his technique at this point. "I've worked hard at skills before, and I think I have that down now," he states. "I feel like I've been able to beat people before, but my goal next year is to really dominate opponents." You can bank on that domination, just as you can bank on a very heated recruit for this premier northwestern lineman.
A month ago, Dockter said that Washington was unquestionably recruiting him the hardest, with Oregon a solid second. Stanford was sending him "a couple things in the mail," and fell into a category with Notre Dame, Duke, Penn State, Michigan State, Colorado, Air Force and Harvard. "The U-Dub is recruiting me the hardest, and they're local," he told The Bootleg. "I'm probably leaning that way, but anything can happen. I think Stanford could be a good option for me. Great education and for the most part a good team." Dockter hinted at the importance of academics and the value of a college degree with an eye toward the future. "My knees are going to blowout and die sometime," he said. "I can't play football forever."
Nevertheless, Stanford stood in a long line of underdogs with the in-state prohibitive favorite standing tall on the proverbial mountaintop. But things have changed as quickly as weather on the West Coast these days, as the Cardinal have made a surge in their recruitment. "Lately Stanford has been giving me the most attention, including handwritten letters from a lot of the coaches," Dockter reveals. "They called my coach on April 2, who came and got me. I called them right back and talked with [offensive line] coach Steve Morton, then head coach Buddy Teevens. Coach Teevens offered me a scholarship for Stanford, which took me by surprise. They had given me indications of serious interest, but I was surprised. It was a little bit of shock and pride. I was really happy to hear that from them."
At the same time, Washington held their Junior Day at the beginning of April. Dockter and many of the Northwest's top football prospects congregated at the Seattle campus to be educated and dazzled by the Husky staff. Prior to the Junior Day, there had been some debate as to whether Dockter really had an offer from Washington or not. Sources have indicated that an offer had been communicated through Dockter's high school head coach some time ago, with intimations of an offer possibly stretching back to his summer camp after his sophomore year at UW. On this day, surely the trigger would be pulled with no room remaining for uncertainty. Dockter informs us that no such clarity was presented. "After people left at the end of the day, the coaches had a select few come back in," he recalls. "We watched film and were addressed by Coach [Rick] Neuheisel. He told us that we were the top people on his list, and on the edge of being offered. He would be watching us during the May evaluation period, and that would be when offers would come. To this date, I do not have an official offer from U-Dub."
Reading between the lines, Dockter knows that an offer has been communicated indirectly through his coach. But he is left scratching his head as to why Neuheisal has not made the offer in person. The Junior Day was as clear an opportunity as you can have with high school juniors at this time, as dictated by NCAA rules. You could label this as miscommunication or confusion, but the rumbling is that Dockter feels slighted by the absence of a direct offer from Neuheiel. And it comes as no surprise that Stanford has made a rapid ascent up his recruiting ladder at the same time.
"My top two right now are Stanford and U-Dub," the Kamiak junior proclaims. "Right now, they're sitting pretty level." But what happens when the longtime favorite and local school corrects their mistake and steps up the plate with clarity and forcefulness in the coming days or weeks, though? Would they jump right back to sole possession of the lead? "Not necessarily," he answers. "Stanford is a great school and U-Dub is also a good school. Actually, I could probably say that Stanford has pulled ahead a little bit right now. There are some little things I have discovered lately that have me examining it all closely. And frankly I know a bunch about U-Dub, but hardly anything about Stanford except for the few phone calls."
He goes on to note that Oregon would make his top three today, with Colorado and Michigan State rounding out his top five. Notre Dame has also been making inquiries lately through his coach, and the scuttlebutt is that they could be stepping up their recruitment soon. Dockter is certainly interested in the Irish.
Stanford has talked with the top tackle about attending their Junior Day in June, but don't expect him to make that trip. He'll be down on The Farm just a couple weeks later attending their football camp. The end of June will in fact be a very busy time, starting with the Nike Camp in Seattle on June 20. The next day he start Washington's four-day camp. With only one day to catch his breath, he is coming to Stanford June 26 for four days working out with the Cardinal coaches.
"A lot will come down to thos