In an alternate universe, Dexter McDougle plays wide receiver for Old Dominion. He runs routes in the spread offense, catches passes from record-setting quarterback Taylor Heinicke and, this Saturday afternoon, will arrive at Byrd Stadium and face the Maryland football team in one of the biggest games of his career.
Back in 2008, one year before the Monarchs’ program even officially set sail, they recruited McDougle as a wide receiver. Old Dominion was building a program from the ground up, and playmakers like McDougle would help facilitate the process. They offered the Virginian his first scholarship offer during a campus visit. But that was before McDougle’s highlight tape made the rounds and bigger schools came calling, seeking to snag him instead as a cornerback. By the end, McDougle chose Maryland over offers Virginia Tech, Akron, James Madison, Richmond and William & Mary. Neither Rivals nor 247sports even listed the Old Dominion offer.
Fast forward to Wednesday afternoon. McDougle hustled into Gossett Team House for an interview, removed his earbud headphones and took a trip down memory lane. He hadn’t thought much about Old Dominion until this week, because even though he sometimes wishes he played wide receiver in college, McDougle will forever, deep down, be a defensive back.
“There’s always people who say, ‘Man, you should’ve played wide receiver, but you’re doing well at corner so I guess it’s all working out,’ ” he said. “I know I wanted to come here and play DB. That’s why I made my decision. I didn’t look back. I don’t regret anything.”
McDougle has become an iron man of sorts among the Terrapins. He’s the only player to start every game of the Randy Edsall era, 25 straight and counting. Last Saturday against Florida International, McDougle snagged his first interception since 2011, displaying the secure hands that once had Old Dominion so interested.
“It’s been fun to watch his development over the years,” Monarchs offensive coordinator Brian Scott said by phone. “I’ve kind of followed him since we did offer him. He’s a heck of a corner out there. I really like that kid. Obviously they like to bring him on some pressures.”
Some of McDougle’s friends still attend Old Dominion and will be there Saturday when the Monarchs come to College Park. He’s still followed the program since committing to Maryland, from its nine-victory inaugural season in 2009 to its current transition into the Football Bowl Subdivision and Conference USA.
“They’re from my home state, so I just look forward to playing against those guys. They’re doing really well to be a new program. I’m happy for them. But I’m a Terp, you know? At the end of the day, I’m a Terp.
“I’m glad I came here. I love it here. Who knows what would’ve happened. I don’t think about that stuff. I just think about this win we’re trying to get this Saturday.”
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