Catching Childhood Dreams by philanthropy

Football player catching ball while running in UC Davis uniform
“I’m glad I got to spend these past few years of my life here at UC Davis,” said Aggie wide-receiver Doss. “I just really found joy here.”

National Football League (NFL) scouting report websites have a lot to say about UC Davis standout student-athlete Keelan Doss.

“A big physical wideout that will win the 50/50 battle…”

“Runs flawless routes­­ … [has] size and speed combo every offensive coordinator is searching for. Can be a red zone nightmare with his size, long arms strong hands and laser focus.”

“[An] absolute beast, tough-as nails-mentality … size, speed and intelligence make [him] an exciting addition to any offense.”

Fans would expect a wide receiver of Doss’ caliber to have dozens of scholarship offers and national media hype coming out of high school. While Doss possessed plenty of talent, he struggled with injuries throughout his high school career, leaving his lone scholarship offer to come from UC Davis, where he qualified both academically and on the field. When Doss stepped onto campus in 2014, it was without much fanfare­, but he never second-guessed his ability. He came with a mission––to prove all the doubters wrong.

He is extremely grateful UC Davis took a chance on him when no one else would.

“I’m blessed to have a scholarship here at UC Davis. I had been working toward that goal my whole life,” Doss said. “I would not be able to afford college without it. When I got the offer I was thrilled –– at that moment I realized all of my hard work had paid off.”

Doss has silenced his critics, as he was a Walter Payton Award finalist last season, which highlights the best offensive player in college football. He was also a consensus All-American, the Big Sky Conference Offensive Player of the Year and Root Sports Offensive Player of the Week. At the conclusion of the Aggies’ season, no player at the Football Bowl Subdivision or Football Championship Subdivision levels held higher figures in receiving yards (1,499), receiving yards per game (136.3) or receptions per game (10.5) than Doss.

Additionally, a member of the Aggies’ Athletics staff noted there has never been more scouts regularly attending UC Davis games than the past two years, during Doss’ ascent into NFL relevance.

Unfinished business

Many fans, and media alike, speculated the 2017 season would mark the end of Doss’ UC Davis career because they expected an NFL organization to select him in the draft, but he decided to return for his senior season. He had two reasons––continue elevating the UC Davis football program into the national spotlight and to finish his education.

“People probably think I am crazy for not going to the league and getting my money,” Doss said. “I know plenty of people would’ve told me to just think about myself and go to the NFL. Even if I have a long, successful NFL career and make a lot of money, I need to be educated and learn how to use it wisely.”

Doss expressed gratitude for those who invested in UC Davis Athletics and in student-athletes.

“Those people really give young men and women a tremendous opportunity,” he said. “They are changing students’ lives and giving them opportunities they once could only dream of––it’s a big deal.”

Doss said he has heard all the stereotypes about how student-athletes don’t take their education seriously or how they skate by in the classroom, just trying to stay eligible. He loves how the culture at UC Davis disproves these stereotypes because wins inside the classroom are just as important as on the field.

“The legitimate student-athlete model here is key and it’s something we take pride in,” said Doss. “The Athletics department and Director of Athletics Kevin Blue have done a great job providing a lot of opportunities and programs to help us in our professional careers after our student-athlete careers are over.”

The next chapter

The jump to the NFL will be an exciting one for Doss, filled with new opportunities and challenges. Doss was not selected during the formal draft, but was immediately signed as an undrafted free agent by his favorite childhood team, the Oakland Raiders –– a dream come true for the Alameda County native. 

Read more about Keelan Doss

Only UC Davis recruited him. Now nation’s leading receiver has pros’ attention [The Sacramento Bee]

College Football: UC Davis receiver Keelan Doss on why he chose to return to school rather than go to NFL [The Reporter]

FCS Kickoff Countdown: The Best Player in FCS Who Wears No. 3 is UC Davis' Keelan Doss [HERO Sports]

NFL Draft Diamonds Scouting Report: Keelan Doss, WR, UC Davis [NFL Draft Diamonds]

Player to Watch: Keelan Doss [Inside The Pylon]