Keelan Doss is from Alameda. He went to Alameda high school. If you look at it on a map, it is basically right between the Oakland Coliseum and the Raiders headquarters. So, as you might expect, playing for the Raiders would be a pretty big dream for him.
It was UC Davis, up North about an hour where Doss would attend college. Despite putting up tremendous number for the Aggies, Doss went undrafted. Among the many teams who were interested in signing him, was the Raiders. It made his decision fairly simple. He would suit up in Silver & Black.
He spent the offseason training at the facility that is practically within walking distance of his childhood home. He has been spending training camp in Napa, not far from where he attended college. And Saturday came the big day when he would take the field in the stadium whose bright lights colored his childhood skyline. Quite a surreal moment for him.
He had so many family and friends on hand to see him play in his first game, he couldn’t even count them. His phone was “blowing up” during pregame with well wishes and family eagerly anticipating seeing him take the field in a Raiders uniform.
He had three moments, each with more excitement than the last — when he came out for warmups, when he came back out in full uniform for warmups, and when he entered the game on offense.
He didn’t start the game. He would enter the game to begin the second quarter. And, of course, it was to big cheers by his family and friends.
“My first drive when I was able to get out there on offense. I was kind of like, I take a deep breath and I was like let’s go, time is now, let’s go take advantage of it,” said Doss.
The time wouldn’t be “now”. Doss didn’t see a pass from Mike Glennon in the second quarter. But come the third quarter, with Nathan Peterman in the game, Doss would finally get his chance. It came at the three-yard-line. Doss lined up out left, took the inside of the cornerback and Peterman found him for the touchdown.
I can’t imagine what it would be like to have your first catch with your childhood team be a touchdown.
“I was like, man, it’s a great feeling,” Doss said of his touchdown catch. “I grew up wanting to do that and just to be able to get that opportunity was a great feeling and hopefully I can experience it again.”
Doss would finish with two catches for 9 yards and the touchdown and the respect of his head coach.
“Keelan Doss, I said I liked that Doss,” said Gruden. “He’s playing three positions, I don’t know if people know that. It’s a credit to him, he’s a smart guy, he’s versatile, he can help us in the kicking game and he’s playing himself into position here maybe to make the team. He’s doing well.”
The three positions Gruden is talking about are the X, Y, and slot receiver positions. Many receivers do one maybe two of those jobs. Few do all three. Doss shrugs off the idea that playing all three receiver spots is difficult.
“It’s not that hard,” Doss said casually. “For whatever reason, man, it just comes easy for me. I’m just able to kind of memorize concepts and plays so I’m able to go out there and perform.”
Being the go to star receiver at UC Davis helped prepare him for Gruden’s demands of his receivers in his offense.
“In college I think that’s what kind of prepared me for now is a played every single position,” Doss added. “Just gives me the best opportunity to get open and translating that to now I think that probably made an impact.”
Doss didn’t just flash in the game. He has been making a strong impression in training camp, regularly being mentioned among those pushing for a roster spot and playing time.
This is the only preseason game the Raiders will play in Oakland this season. If Doss is the take this field again, it would mean he made the regular season roster. And if that’s the case, he will be taking the field in primetime on Monday Night Football. So, obviously the dreams get much bigger from here.