Around the Nation

Finding a freshman phenom

Twin brothers Joshua and Jacob Doolan give Maine Maritime two of its three options in the backfield.
Maine Maritime athletics photo

Six years ago, one of the greatest rushers in Division III history talked to me about what it was like to arrive on campus as a freshman and play football with guys who were larger, more disciplined and more mature than your average 18-year-old. He talked about intimidation and the feeling that, as a newcomer, he needed to play harder and smarter than the guy next to him just to stand out.

Everyone, he said, playing collegiate football was All-District or All-State in high school. Your résumé is meaningless once camp starts that first season — your worth is decided then and there on the field. It’s where the sports clichés and reality come together, and those who know how to bring to life the clichés will succeed.

That freshman ended up being a key factor to Mount Union winning its eighth Stagg Bowl, and he ultimately went on to set the career record for rushing yards in all divisions.

Most teams don’t get to have a Nate Kmic on the roster, and players who are close to that caliber don’t come along often. But when a team does get an athlete — a freshman — who can make an impact almost from Day 1, there is a lot for the team to be excited about. Four years of consistency and skill in one position can go far in developing others in proximity and can signal what the team’s future leadership will look like.

Maine Maritime running back Jacob Doolan has been a force from the moment he stepped onto the field. And his coach, more than usual, had a pretty good idea what he was getting out of a first-year player.

Why? Because Jacob’s twin brother, Joshua, has been on the team as a running back since last fall.

“They make each other work hard, and that’s a good thing,” coach Chris McKenney said. “They compete with each other, but they’re obviously close. Having them both here, working against each other and working with each other, is a good thing.”

Jacob Doolan spent last year at the University of Maine and didn’t play football. The 19-year-old has excelled in his return to the game, leading the triple-option team with 647 yards rushing. He also is tops in receiving yards with 146 and has a total of seven touchdowns to his name. He has started every game.

Getting there wasn’t easy. During the summer, he studied film from his brother’s 2013 season, and he learned an offense that was unlike anything he had experienced in high school.

He said, “Taking a year off from football, going to the University of Maine-Orono, I knew in the offseason this summer that I had to work a little...

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Columnist

Ryan Tipps

Ryan is D3football.com's Senior Editor and begins as National Columnist in fall 2014. He was the Around the Mid-Atlantic Columnist from 2007 to 2011; has worked on all but one of the preseason Kickoff publications; has done game-day writing and photography and the pregame broadcast at the championship Stagg Bowl in Salem for almost a decade; and has taken photos at the Final Four for D3hoops.com. He's also on the selection staff for the Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year award.

2001-2013 columnist: Keith McMillan.

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