Khalid Dorsey talks about his play and role on the York High Bearcats football team.
One could argue that over the past few seasons, Khalid Dorsey was the heart and soul of the York High football team.
He was one of the team's most important players during a period when the program went through some tumultuous seasons and one great turnaround. After playing for Bearcats teams that went 1-19 through his first two varsity seasons, Dorsey helped build York High into a 9-2 team this year, including earning a share of the York-Adams League Division I title, while also qualifying for the District 3 Class 5-A playoffs.
When Dorsey was going through his college recruitment as a junior and senior, one school on his list reminded him the Bearcats.
On Wednesday, Dec. 6, Dorsey ended his recruitment by verbally committing to Howard University, an NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision school in Washington that competes in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference.
"They were just like us," Dorsey said about the Bison. "Last year, they were 2-9 and we were 1-9. The way their coach stepped in and built their program up is how coach (Russ) Stoner stepped in and built our program up."
This season, Howard, an historically black college, had a bounce-back season under first-year head coach Mike London to go 7-4 overall and 6-2 in MEAC play. That included a Week 1 43-40 victory over Football Bowl Subdivision program UNLV. That is considered the biggest upset in college football history based on a Las Vegas point spread. The Bison entered that road game as 45-point underdogs.
Despite being a step below the top tier of college football, seeing Howard pull off an upset over an FBS program got Dorsey excited to be part of that culture.
"It gets me very excited because that means the competition level is high," he said. "So, I know that they're ready to compete and I'm a competitive player, so I'm going to feel just right about competing, so that's what I'm going to do."
Dorsey was second in the Y-A League with 1,728 rushing yards, scored 15 touchdowns and was a Y-A Division I first-team all-star. He held offers from five different schools, ranging in level from FCS down to the NAIA. Along with Howard, he was also considering Bryant University, Millersville University, Lincoln College and Bluefield College.
However, when he and his mom took a visit to Howard in November to see the team play Norfolk State, Dorsey said the program made a positive impact on him and his mother.
"The coaches made me buy-in," Dorsey said. "They took me in like I was family and made everything good to me. They built a relationship with me, built a relationship with my mom and my mom is my heart, so if you get her to buy-in, then I'm going to buy-in too."
Stoner thrilled: York High head coach Russ Stoner said he's thrilled to see any of his players get a chance to play at the next level, but even more so with Dorsey.
"With Dorsey, it's even better for me because he came through a tough journey being, prior to this season, 1-19, and not really sure what options he was going to have as a player," Stoner said. "So, him having this opportunity is fantastic."
Stoner has dealt with the recruiting process for years, experiencing it both as a player in high school at West York and as a coach for two-plus decades. He never forced his opinions on Dorsey, instead giving him direction on how to handle recruitment.
"What it really comes down to is where you fit and where you feel most comfortable," Stoner said. "So, all we tried to do was point him in the right direction, and kids are no different than adults. You start to feel who you're comfortable with and he started to feel comfortable with the coaches down at Howard."
Dorsey said he saw a lot of similarities with coach London at Howard that he's experienced with Stoner, which also impacted his decision. London formerly was the head coach at FBS Virginia and FCS Richmond and was the associate head coach at FBS Maryland.
Dorsey-Ray rivalry: Being a MEAC team, one of Howard's main rivals is Hampton University, where former York-Adams all-star Jordan Ray plays. Ray was a standout wide receiver for York Tech in 2016, but didn't play much as a freshman this past season with the Pirates.
Dorsey, however, said he'll make sure to engage in some trash talk with Ray over the next few seasons, taking a long-standing rivalry between Howard and Hampton and adding some York County flair to it.
"I'm looking forward to facing him," Dorsey said about Ray. "We're going to create a York County rivalry. Howard versus Hampton is already a rivalry, so me and him are going to have our own friendly rivalry. Every time we play against each other, whoever wins is going to have bragging rights and just talk crazy till next season."
— Reach Patrick Strohecker at firstname.lastname@example.org