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‘Don’t throw it in the dirt’: UC Davis All-America receiver gets first pitch at A’s game

UC Davis wide receiver Keelan Doss (3) during the game between the Aggies and the Southern Utah Thunderbirds at Aggies Stadium in Davis on Nov. 11, 2017.
UC Davis wide receiver Keelan Doss (3) during the game between the Aggies and the Southern Utah Thunderbirds at Aggies Stadium in Davis on Nov. 11, 2017. Sacramento Bee file

Keelan Doss is one of the best collegiate pass catchers in the country, but Friday will give him an opportunity to show off his arm.

The All-America senior wide receiver from UC Davis will throw out the first pitch before the Oakland A’s game against the Detroit Tigers at 7:05 p.m. at the Coliseum in front of his family and friends, according to Josh Flushman, UC Davis’ associate athletics director.

“We’ve been looking at different ways to promote him and make him more of a household name as he goes for the Walter Payton award again and All-American status,” Flushman said. “I have some connections to the A’s that I reached out to and knowing he grew up in the Bay Area right by the Coliseum, I thought it was a natural fit for both of us that Oakland can use their ‘Rooted in Oakland’ campaign and we can use to promote our preseason All-American wide receiver.”

Doss, who grew up playing high school football less than 5 miles from the Coliseum in Alameda, wrapped up a training camp practice around 3 p.m. at UC Davis and headed out to the stadium after a quick shower.

“I think there’s a part of him that’s nervous that he’s going to have to throw the pitch out in front of all those people, but of course, he’s excited to be home amongst family and friends and throw out a first pitch,” Flushman said. “He’s very appreciative and excited about it and likes the opportunity, but I think there’s probably some nerves about, you know, can he make the pitch all the way to home plate?”

The 6-foot-3 Walter Payton Award finalist didn’t show much nerves last season after he ended his year with the most receiving yards (1,499), receiving yards per game (136.3) and receptions per game (10.5) in the nation. In total, Doss finished with a UC Davis program record 115 receptions and a Big Sky Conference Offensive Player of the Year award.

“This is the first time that any UC Davis student-athlete has been able to take advantage of a pregame opportunity like this, and even though he’s used to catching balls, now he gets to switch roles and throw one,” said Eric Bankston, UC Davis’ interim director of athletics communications. “Everyone has been kind of giving him a hard time, but I think the overall thing is, don’t throw it in the dirt. Go hard, go high, don’t throw it short.”

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