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The path to Division I football for 2014 Bruton graduate Kapri Doucet has been neither easy nor convenient.
Doucet earned a scholarship offer from James Madison University coming out of high school, but lacked the standardized test scores to qualify for enrollment.
JMU’s then-Head Football Coach Everett Withers encouraged Doucet to attend a junior college and to improve his grades and continue playing football.
Heeding Withers’ advice, Doucet enrolled at Lackawanna College in Pennsylvania, which has a history of helping talented football players earn roster spots at schools competing in Power Five conferences and improving academic standings.
Today, Doucet sports a 3.4 GPA and has made dean’s list during his time at Lackawanna College. On the gridiron, Doucet has recorded a team-high 59 tackles and six sacks en route to earning National Junior College Athletic Association defensive honors as a hard-hitting outside linebacker.
He has also earned scholarship offers from Division I schools University of Buffalo, Old Dominion University, University of Southern Mississippi, University of South Alabama, JMU, Hampton University and Georgia State.
“It’s been great since I’ve been here,” said Doucet, who plans to announce where he will play college football after Lackawanna in February. “The academics are hard but we have a great support system with the coaches and teachers. Since I’ve gone here, I’ve learned how to be on my own and be independent.”
The decision to attend Lackawanna College worked out well for another former Bruton football player — Lorenzo Taliaferro, who went on to play for Coastal Carolina and now plays running back for the Baltimore Ravens.
However, deciding to attend a junior college was a reality Doucet tried desperately to avoid during his senior year. With a scholarship to JMU in hand, Doucet wanted to believe he would be eligible to enroll at JMU right away — somehow, some way.
This should come as no surprise given the spectacle that has become National Signing Day around the U.S. What was once a decision made by high school student athletes in the company of parents and coaches has grown into a year-round fascination for some.
Top-ranked high school football players now have the opportunity to break recruiting news to specialized recruiting websites like 247Sports, Rivals and Scout, announce their college decisions during high school all-star games and even on national television thanks to coverage provided by channels such as ESPNU, which has programming dedicated to nothing but recruiting.
Many high school athletes want to be part of National Signing Day and sign their names on the dotted line for their first-choice college. Doucet was one of those athletes longing to have his moment in the spotlight, but it was not to be.
Instead, Doucet made what he said was the right decision for his future and chose to attend a junior college that would help him develop into a more well-rounded student and athlete.
Looking back on how his high school career played out, Doucet said he would not change a thing. Indeed, Doucet said he is grateful for his time at Lackawanna and believes his course in life has been divinely inspired.
“I’m on the path God chose for me,” he said. “I wouldn’t have been ready to go straight to a Division I school coming out of high school. I wasn’t focused and I was young. I feel like I’m a way better person now academically and physically than I was in high school.”
The Bruton product also had words of advice for other high school students who may find themselves in a similar situation to his: There’s nothing wrong with attending a junior college.
“Exploring the junior college route is a great option,” he said. “It’s hard going to [junior colleges] and being out there on your own. You’re not the big fish in the small pond. You’ve got to go out there, work hard and do what you need to do. … It’s a great route to go and it’ll definitely prepare you for the next level.”