The next step

Former Slippery Rock running back discusses his future in football

Published by Aidan Treu and Alex Hanczar, Date: February 21, 2024
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Just over a year ago, Khalid Dorsey was a running back on his second college team just starting to get looks as a featured player on offense. NFL dreams were flashing through his head, like any collegiate football player, but there was still much work to do.

The dreams were just that at the time, dreams. The same as many of the rest of us, he had goals he hoped would one day be attainable, but he needed to prove to everyone he was worthy of his own dreams.

Right then, it started to happen. After playing in 12 games and performing out of mainly a backup role at Division I Howard University, he started to get opportunities when he transferred into the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC).

Over the course of the 2021 and 2022 seasons with the Raiders, he rushed for over 900 yards and a more than respectable 4.4 yards per carry. His 502 net rushing yards in 2022 led his team.

People started to notice. It was time for him to step into the DII spotlight at The Rock.

Sometimes players new to a team struggle to get their feet under them. Other times they are slowly integrated into the offense.

Dorsey was an outlier. His talent was undeniable and he was immediately one of the most important factors on offense, leading the White and Green with 33 carries through three games and averaging an electric 8.4 yards per carry in both of the first two.

The senior was just waiting for a sign. His technical proficiency and athleticism were obviously there. He just needed his moment.

Playing against Indiana University (Pa.) on Sept. 30, he had his moment where he truly started to believe.

“When I scored three touchdowns against IUP, I got player of the game,” Dorsey said. “I realized I could really do this,”

Dorsey and the White and Green knocked off their biggest rival in a commanding 42-21 victory. It was at this time the 5-foot-11 running back realized he was balling at the highest level of Division II.

Not to mention, Dorsey had a few personal goals during the game too, the first being a rivalry Dorsey has known for even longer than he has known the SRU versus IUP conflict.

“My best friend plays running back at IUP so we had a little bet going on,” Dorsey said.

Of course, the bad blood between The Rock and the Crimson Hawks was just as much a part of his motivation as anything else.

“It was big because you know the beef between us and IUP,” Dorsey said. “We don’t like IUP.”

Dorsey noted another match up against highly-ranked Tiffin University held a similar feeling to the IUP game. The Rock took down another nationally recognized team 45-35. Dorsey averaged an elite 7.0 yards per carry on 10 carries and scored a touchdown.

“We knew we were a good offense and a good team, and we didn’t know what Tiffin was going to bring to the table because they were coming from the G-MAC (Great Midwest Atlantic Conference),” Dorsey said. “The first two drives, they stopped us and we stopped them so it was zero to zero going into the second quarter. It was like, ‘oh we’re in a good game, this is fun.’”

The standout running back knew the possibilities just became endless and from here, it was time to turn dreams into reality.

“I’m shooting for the NFL, but I’m still open to the CFL and the UFL,” Dorsey said. “I’ve been in contact with a couple CFL teams, one UFL team and a couple NFL teams.”

The 2023 First Team All-PSAC West running back is keeping his options open as to which league he pursues.

Most important for Dorsey is reaching the next level, being a pro in whatever facet that may be.

The York, Pa. native began to train on his own terms when the 2023-24 season came to an end for SRU.

His routine since has consisted of two workouts a day, one featuring weights in the gym, the other on-field for running drills to stay keen on the details.

Training is not just physical though. Mentally, Dorsey has prepared himself for quite some time to be ready for what is next.

“You have to keep your mind in the right place, keep your mind going, and keep your mind unfazed.” Dorsey said.

Being both mentally and physically strong is a key aspect of taking that next step and making it to the next level.

Dorsey understands that on any given day your job could be in jeopardy and performing your best each day is essential.

“Once you go to the NFL, it’s a job now, how people are doctors or landscapers, that’s their job,” Dorsey said. “When you go to the League, that’s our job.”

Part of any job is battling through adversity and realizing that any given day your job could be gone, and the NFL is no different. This is something Dorsey realizes and embraces as part of his mental preparation.

Dorsey could not have done it on his own though. Through the help of coaches and teammates, he can continue and work at his dream.

It is clear when talking to the players that Slippery Rock football head coach Shawn Lutz harbors a culture of positivity and gratitude. Dorsey’s comments about his teammates showed this.

“Chris D’or and Isaiah Edwards made me better,” Dorsey said. “We knew we were gonna share the rock it was just how were we gonna do it and how are we gonna dominate and we did dominate.”

The trio were indeed dominant in tandem with The Rock’s elite offensive line. The three churned out 2280 yards and 35 touchdowns with each of them averaging over 5.5 yards per carry. Dorsey led the bunch with 984 net rushing yards.

The whole roster held this same competitive but positive mentality. They all pushed each other to be better. It is a large part of what makes Dorsey an intriguing prospect for the next level. He is no stranger to the grind. He welcomes it.

“It was fun playing with those guys because they made me better and made me compete and want to play football even more,” Dorsey said. “When I first came to Slippery Rock those are the guys that helped me understand the Slippery Rock way.”

The next step can be simultaneously the most exciting yet require the most patience. Coming off a year filled with intrigue where Dorsey tallied over 1000 yards and 14 total touchdowns, it is time to play the waiting game as he looks for an opportunity to play professional football.

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