In February of 1982, when Karl Dorrell of Helix High School in La Mesa decided not to go to San Diego State after all, but to go, instead, to UCLA, one newspaper called Dorrell's decision San Diego State's most significant loss.
It was also reported that one of Dorrell's high school coaches said: "What's-his-name, Terry Donahue, came down here and sat on his front porch."
Reminded of that, Dorrell gives a little laugh. "Well, he didn't actually sit on my front porch," Dorrell said. "He did come down the day before signing day, and we talked some more. At that time I was kind of twisted between San Diego State and UCLA. It did influence me that he went out of his way to come here and let me know that UCLA wanted me."
Donahue certainly did want Dorrell. As a senior at Helix, Dorrell had caught 48 passes for 912 yards and 13 touchdowns.
A year earlier, Donahue had not known a thing about Mike Sherrard, a skinny kid from Chico who was deciding to turn down a lot of small-college offers to walk on at UCLA. When Donahue recruited Dorrell, Sherrard was redshirting and trying to play his way into a scholarship.
Times do change.
Going into UCLA's game against San Diego State Saturday, Sherrard leads UCLA receivers with 13 catches for 220 yards. Sherrard, the starting split end, is a senior coming off two impressive seasons, he's about to become the school's all-time leading receiver, and he's considered among the best receivers in the country.
Dorrell, the starting flanker, is listed as a junior. He's coming back from an injury that caused him to redshirt last season. His statistics, 7 catches for 70 yards, are second to Sherrard's. In fact, Dorrell always seems to be mentioned as a second thought, after Mike Sherrard.
To his credit, Dorrell is not intimidated by that. For one thing, he says that he can tell, on the field, that the opponents are aware of him, too.
"I hope Mike keeps it up," Dorrell said. "To be successful, you need all your guns. I'm sure Mike's going to experience a lot of coverages designed to stop him. That's when I'll have to come through. They give me that respect. They know that they want to stop Mike but that, then again, there's Karl. You can't lay off of him, either. It makes defenders play us more honestly.
"I think this should be a pretty good year for me. I'm off to a decent start. I think if I'm consistent and injury free, I'll probably end up with 30 catches.
"My goal is to be a better player than I was when I was a sophomore. I don't think about comparing myself to Mike. He's worked from the bottom to the top. It's his turn to be in the limelight. To be working side by side, both of us starting in the game, helps me out a lot."
That attitude is so close to the ideal that it almost seems suspect. But Dorrell added in a fit of honestly: "It's easier to be generous about it knowing that I have another year."
Dorrell and Sherrard were not best buddies that first year, when Sherrard was a second-year freshman and Dorrell was a true freshman who refused to redshirt. They were competing against one another. That year--playing behind such receivers as Cormac Carney, Jojo Townsell and Dokie Williams--Sherrard had two catches and Dorrell three.
The next year, with Sherrard, Dorrell and Mike Young, who is now with the Rams, all sharing two receiving positions, things started to lighten up. It was more of a team project. Sherrard had 48 catches for 709 yards and 2 touchdowns. Dorrell had 26 catches for 390 yards and 6 touchdowns.
It was becoming clear that UCLA was--and would be for quite some time--very long on talent in the receiving corps.
"We definitely have a lot of talent now," Dorrell said. "Don't forget about Paco (Craig) and Al (Wilson). I think we're all capable of doing the job."
And don't forget about Willie (Flipper) Anderson, who caught his first pass at Tennessee for a touchdown.
"Obviously the coaches have confidence in all of us, or they wouldn't be getting those calls," Dorrell said.
The passes are going to be shared among a lot of players, this season and next season. But having another year of eligibility after Sherrard has used his may work out well for Dorrell.
Of course, it was hard to think brightly about his fate last season, when he dislocated his shoulder against Nebraska in the third game of the season. He tried to come back after six weeks, but there was still too much pain. The decision was made to redshirt him, since he had not, like most UCLA players, sat out his freshman season.
He got seriously into weightlifting as he rehabilitated his shoulder and later bulked up so much that he had to lose 10 pounds. "Carrying that much weight, I was starting to look like a running back," he said. "I'm not even 6 feet tall. I'm about 5-11 3/4, so I wanted to stay lighter."
Still, Dorrell, who weighs 191 and who runs the 40 in 4.53 seconds, is considered the best blocker among the receivers.
That's not something he brags about. That's documented. He didn't even mention it.
Dorrell is not one to brag. He's especially not going to do any bragging about UCLA or his decision to choose UCLA over San Diego State in the same week that UCLA is going to play San Diego State. Dorrell is, after all, a psychology major.
"Last year we tended to think of San Diego State pretty lightly," he said. "I knew they were going to come out to get us, but it's hard to convince some of the players. I thought we took them lightly last year, and they almost beat us. I don't think this year it will be a problem.
"We have last year to think about. And this team is younger. I think they're hungrier. I really don't anticipate overconfidence."