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Former Star UC Davis WR Keelan Doss Signs To Jacksonville Practice Squad

DAVIS, Calif. — Keelan Doss’ journey through the NFL preseason came to a positive albeit surprising resolution, when UC Davis’ two-year All-American receiver was signed to the Jacksonville Jaguars’ practice squad for the 2019 season over the Labor Day weekend.

A 2018 organizational studies graduate from Alameda, California, Doss largely rewrote the receiving section of the Aggie record book during his career from 2014-18. He set benchmarks for season receptions (118), career receptions (321), season receiving yards (1,499), career receiving yards (4,069), season 100-yard games (9) and career 100-yard games (19). He earned a total of 13 All-America awards in his final two seasons, including “consensus” honors as a junior, while adding Big Sky Conference Offensive Player of the Year in 2017. In his final season, he helped UC Davis to a 10-3 record, its first Big Sky team title, and the program’s first-ever appearance in the FCS postseason.

Doss later received an invitation to participate in the East-West Shrine Game, but opted to play in the Reese’s Senior Bowl. He competed for the North squad under the guidance of Jon Gruden, which proved crucial: after Doss went unselected during April’s draft, Gruden’s Oakland Raiders acquired Doss as a free agent.

The Raiders’ camp was then chronicled as part of the popular HBO docuseries Hard Knocks, the second episode of which largely centered around the Aggie wideout. Doss’ visit back to a UC Davis practice even served as the coda for that episode, which aired on August 13. During the Senior Bowl and the Oakland preseason, Doss often earned Gruden’s plaudits, and the Alameda High grad performed well on the field with a team-high 17 receptions, 162 yards and a touchdown in four preseason games. 

Despite the positive indicators, however, the receivers-heavy Raiders did not select Doss for their 53-man roster, instead placing him on waivers.

After trimming their rosters to 53 players then claiming new players off waivers, all NFL teams then have the opportunity to fill out a 10-player practice squad. The Jaguars announced the signing of offensive lineman Ka’John Armstrong, cornerback Tae Hayes, running back Eljiah Hood, tight end Charles Jones, wide receiver Michael Walker and cornerback Brandon Watson on Sunday. They subsequently released Hood, and filled out the remaining slots with Doss, offensive lineman Blake Hance, linebacker Deshaun Davis, quarterback Chase Litton and defensive lineman Eli Ankou.

If Doss can earn a spot on the active roster, he could become the first Aggie wide receiver to play in an NFL game since Rich Martini, the UC Davis baseball/football standout who competed three years with the Raiders and Saints from 1979 to 1981. Onome Ojo, a 2001 draft pick, made the New Orleans practice squad but did not appear in a game. UC Davis wideouts John Shoemaker, Michael Oliva, Tony Kays, Bakari Grant and Chris Carter also were signed by NFL teams after their respective careers, but did not ultimately make the 53-man cut. 

The last Aggie alumnus to catch a pass in the NFL was Daniel Fells, who did so 114 times with the Rams, Broncos, Patriots and Giants from 2008 to 2015. UC Davis football has enjoyed a solid tradition of sending players to the league, particularly at quarterback, with the likes of Ken O’Brien (1980-82), Mike Moroski (1975-78) and J.T. O’Sullivan (1998-2001) even earning starting spots at the position. Most recently, punters Colton Schmidt (2009-12) and Colby Wadman (2013-16) were active in 2018 for the Buffalo Bills and Denver Broncos, respectively.