A face familiar to University Place will be joining the Pirate's ship at Washington State University this spring.
, the former star and offensive juggernaut for the Vikings, plans to return to campus and play under newly hired Cougars football coach Mike Leach.
Dockery, who arrived in Pullman last summer but returned home to University Place in October when he wasn't cleared to play by the NCAA Eligibility Center, said that he is close to wrapping up an online history class through WSU.
“I decided to take an online class so I could qualify myself instead of waiting for the NCAA,” he said. “The plan right now is to finish this and be back for Spring Ball.”
That means that Dockery should be back on campus shortly before the spring semester commences in January. And despite the cold winters of the Palouse, he says with a laugh, he’s ready.
Adding to his anticipation is that the Cougars just hired Leach, who previously led Texas Tech to a school-record 10 bowl games in as many seasons, as their head coach.
Dockery said that he is hoping to talk to Leach once he is settled in Pullman, possibly as early as this week. And he is definitely excited about playing under such a storied coach.
Leach is expected to be one of the most colorful coaches in Cougar history with his fiery personality, love of pirate lore and, most importantly to a wideout like Dockery, a pass-happy scheme that gave his former team one of the most potent offenses in the country. It has also produced the likes of Michael Crabtree and Wes Welker, both of whom now catch passes on Sundays in the NFL.
“I think it’s actually a good thing that we got a new coach,” Dockery said of Leach. “I used to follow (Texas Tech) and I really liked his game plan.”
During his time at home, Dockery said that some of the schools that were recruiting him out of Curtis High, including Oregon State and Texas Christian, contacted his parents to inquire about his plans and whether he planned to return to Pullman.
Deciding between the Cougars and the Beavers came down to the wire for Dockery on His parents preferred Oregon State but gave him the final say. And having already made the decision once, it was easy to stick with those plans, Dockery said.
“Washington State was the first one to come at me, and I felt they would take the best care of me,” he said.
Despite being recruited during the tenure of former WSU coach Paul Wulff, Dockery said that he is not too concerned about returning to a program with a new coach. After all, Wulff was already facing pressure from a divided fan base, and many in the Cougar Nation argued that he needed to reach a bowl game this season to retain his job.
The Cougars finished 4-8, didn't make a bowl and Wulff was fired two days after the season ended.
“It’s hard to explain,” Dockery said, “but I kind of got used to knowing that Coach Wulff was in a position where he could be losing his job.
“I was mainly recruited by the wide receivers coach and he’s still there,” he said of fellow Curtis alum Mike Levenseller. “And the other coaches, I like them, too.”
Dockery also said he has several friends at Washington State, which solidified his decision to return. Linebacker Tana Pritchard, whom he calls a cousin, was also a member of the 2011 signing class, as well as former .
By dropping his classes in the fall, Dockery still has five years to play four seasons of college football. He will join a glut of talented young players for WSU, particularly on the offensive side of the ball.
The 5-foot-10, 170-pound Dockery has been projected to play wide receiver and on special teams – likely as a kick returner. He was named 2010 state high-school player of the year by The News Tribune after catching 73 passes for 1,443 yards and 17 touchdowns, as well as 713 rushing yards, during his senior season at Curtis.